Friday, April 14, 2017

Кафе. Kafe. Coffee.

"The heart wants neither coffee nor coffeehouses. The heart wants only a friend. Coffee is only the excuse." Turkish proverb

          There are many things that people say makes the world go round. Many of those things are emotional, many are physical yet one physical item invokes many emotional moments. Coffee.  I've mentioned before that coffee is a major part of life here.  Here in the Balkans "na gosti's" are the norm whether they're at 11am or 10pm. Ready to go to bed? Not if someone shows up unannounced you're not. Instead you're making Turkish coffee, smoking a cigarette and chatting for the next hour.

          Coffee pours itself into every conversation, every meeting here. Yet, how is it made? I had never drank Turkish style coffee before moving here and after learning how it's made I haven't described it to you.

          First you grab your handy Ѓезве, Gezve or Turkish coffee pot, add cold water and wait. Thus begins the different ways of preparing Turkish coffee. Some people will wait until the water boils and then will add the coffee grinds and mix.  Others put the coffee grinds in with the cold water and have them boil together. They'll then add white sugar and pour the coffee in your cup. Another group of brewers will heat the water, add the coffee grinds and stir.  They'll let the coffee rise, the part that boils and coalesces makes what's called камјак, kamjak.  They won't stir the coffee again, the kamik will rise once more.  Then they'll take the kamik with small spoon into the your cup, then pour the coffee and the kamik remains on top for you to enjoy the slightly bitter taste.

The traditional way of serving Balkan coffee. This was in a coffee shop Sarajevo and was delicious. 
Homemade Turkish coffee in Sarajevo. 
No coffee should be served without something to nibble on.
Coffee with my PST family in Sveti Nikola. 
Turkish coffee in Ohrid. 
          Now for some fun facts:

  • Coffee fortune telling is a big deal here. People will pay a lot of money to have their finished coffee "read" by a respected coffee reader. A coworker at my school does it everyday. 
  • When the bride and groom's family's formally meet to approve the coming marriage, the bride to be will prepare coffee for everyone with one twist. Her groom's coffee will be served with salt instead of sugar. If he smiles and drinks it without complaint then he likes her and sanctions her right to kitchen and home. If he complains about the taste or takes only a small sip then his character is revealed as well. 
  • Coffee arrived in Europe after the Ottomans were defeated at the Siege of Vienna. They left their unroasted beans and a Polish man, Georg Kolschitzky, had lived in the Ottoman Empire and knew how to roast the beans. So he opened Vienna's first coffee shop The Blue Bottle. It was there that our modern filtered coffee with milk was born. 
Kolschitzky and The Blue Bottle. *
          Lastly, after returning from the States I told my colleagues about the trip, over coffee of course. I explained how we Westerners order coffee to go and that everyone's car has a cup holder. The reaction was immediate, "That's stupid, Logan!" "Coffee is meant to be sipped slowly and you have a chat with everyone." "You only put sugar in coffee, not milk, honey or other flavors." Excluding a few good dirty jokes or stories, that was the hardest I've laughed here. 

          Have a great Easter weekend and enjoy your coffee "for here" instead of "to-go". Remember, it's all about the conversation.

*Courtesy of

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