The coffee culture in Croatia is really quite remarkable. If you want to save this later to read, you can save it to Pinterest here.
I always loved coffee, but since relocating abroad, I may be entering the realm of a coffee aficionado, I love it so much. Drinking coffee means socializing and people watching – seeing and being seen!
It’s no secret that coffee helps us move and function – but here in Europe, specifically Croatia, it has a culture all its own. Foreign guests may only begin to get a glimpse of this coffee culture after a few days visit here.
One cup of coffee can stretch out for quite awhile – at least 45 minutes, because Croatians really nurse their coffee – and they don’t gulp their coffee – they sip. It would be unthinkable to multi-task coffee with driving or any other activity.
Besides that, coffee dates can be totally spontaneous! I will explain more, below.
When people go outside, they try to look presentable if not snazzy, that means makeup, cologne, and clever accessories. No baggy-butt sweatpants when you get out of the house because you never know who you will run into.
Did you know that if you run into a person for the third time you are destined to sit down to coffee with them? The belief is that destiny is bringing us together to discuss some matter of vital importance.
COFFEE is both Cheap and Expensive
The cost of a cup of coffee is 1-2 € (generally 8 to 12 kunas). When I was a poor student, I had a coffee allowance!
If you make it at home, it’s a lot less, but people usually have pocket money for coffee as a social necessity.
LUXURY OR NECESSITY?
My newest toy is pictured to the right, a Mitaci i4 coffee machine, which uses Illy coffee capsules. I bought a good, used professional coffee maker on Njuškalo, our online marketplace. By the way, making coffee at home using capsules is at least 50% cheaper than that made in the coffee shops (the Kafić (kaa-FEECH).
Many purchases are justified with “it came to two cups of coffee”. New hairdryer? “It came to three cups of coffee” Movie theatre ticket? “The matinee price was only two cups of coffee”. Friends who haven’t seen each other text urgently – “when shall we meet for coffee?”
Never mind if we drink coffee, tea, cappuccino, beer or wine! Coffee = means time to socialize – coffee, and more coffee!
What to order? Here are some popular choices – so feel free to test your coffee knowledge:
TOP COFFEE DRINKS AROUND THE WORLD
Black coffee/Cup of Joe – American Coffee
Black coffee is good for a morning shock or afternoon jolt. It may also represent a rite of passage from childhood to the sometimes bitter realities of adult responsibility.
Espresso – Some Like It Strong
The best way to make espresso is to use an espresso machine or an Italian coffee maker. In Croatia, a short black coffee is also referred to as “Turkish coffee” probably because coffee first came to us through the Turkish invaders.
Did you know that it is a big no-no to drink a cup of coffee with milk after lunch? Italians cringe when they hear foreigners ask for a cappuccino, or any coffee drinks made with milk like the macchiato. After lunch, only a short black cup of espresso is considered acceptable. Nothing else makes sense to them on a full stomach of food.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN – A History of Coffee and its Development
Coffee has been in fashion for at least 500 years! First discovered in Ethiopia, it made its way to Turkey and the East, then to Europe.
By the 1700s coffee was making its debut in the New World, first in the Caribbean then to Brazil by way of Africa.
There is a legend how one man’s determination to plant coffee in Brazil met with resistance from the governor until finally, the governor’s wife gave him some coffee plants disguised as a bouquet. From these few humble plants, plantations of coffee thrived making Brazil a top global producer.
WHITE COFFEE (Espresso with milk):
Brushed Suede is a caffè crema (long espresso) with steamed milk, finished off with a dusting of cinnamon. I personally find the ones at McDonald’s in Zadar to be sheer perfection.
Flat White – same thing.
The morning coffee ritual is an international one, thanks to the widespread acceptance of the coffee bean as a light, but effective drug.
Caffeine enables students, workers, housewives, and executives the pickup and go they need to get started in the morning, usually after not enough sleep or a stressful work week.
Coffee quickens the pulse, getting the body in a mode to face a new day. If one cup is not enough, by all means, have another! (and another.. lol..)
EUROPEAN COFFEE CULTURE
A big coffee drinking culture evolved from the economic reality that a meal out was simply out of reach. Instead of “let’s do lunch” it became “let’s go have coffee”.
Coffee shop ambiance is very important. Thatis why the coffee on the town square or facing a lovely scenic view will invariably be more expensive since it adds to the experience.
Coffee is not something to gulp down in traffic, hurried and distracted. NOOO. Instead, coffee is savored. It requires sitting in a lovely spot, preferably with a friend or colleague, savored slowly and partaken with tiny, tantalizing sips.
White sugar? Brown sugar? One or two? These are important matters of consideration. Some coffee drinkers take great pride in having their own special combination.
A cafe au lait consists of half brewed coffee, and half warmed milk. It looks like a cappuccino, but it’s not!
POPULAR COFFEE TOPPINGS
What to sprinkle on top of the foamed milk? Here are some favorites:
Middle Eastern Specialty – Turkish coffee
When you think about the sweet middle eastern pastries like baklava, drinks like Turkish coffee really pair up well with them. Dark as hell and sweet as love, Turkish coffee is brewed up in a tiny, metal pot on the stove. It doesn’t require a filter.
Also known as “cowboy coffee” it is brewed up quickly and simply and will wake you up in a jiffy.
How to Make Turkish Coffee
Brewed in a pot with boiling hot water and plenty of sugar. Once the coffee grounds fall to the bottom, the contents are carefully poured into tiny cups.
The bubbly coffee foam (the “best part”) is individually spooned out to each guest.
My Impressions of American Coffee Culture:
Americans love newfangled, Europeans love the tried and true.
Americans love good old-fashioned watered down coffee, which I honestly don’t care for – but that’s OK – coffee keeps the working world alive and well.
Coffee King Starbucks offers interesting varieties, like pumpkin pie spice and other seasonal favorites. The Christmas blend is nice too. Just like ham with pineapple and brown sugar in a “whatever floats your boat” approach, it would probably not go over here too well.
As an alternative, Mocha coffee is a chocolate hint in the strong brewed coffee combined with milk and preferably, milk foam. Containing more calories than a normal cup of coffee, it can serve as an afternoon boredom breaker at the office when blood sugar level is low. One of the easiest ways to make this is mix half a package of instant cocoa into a freshly brewed cup of coffee, add cold milk and stir so that no lumps are formed from the cocoa.
COFFEE TALK (as Linda Richman says in a thick New York accent on Saturday Night Live)…
Most Americans use a coffee maker like Mr. Coffee. It uses cold water, and with the help of electricity, boils the water and brews it through a coffee filter which sits in the upper compartment. The result is a great brew, but you will need more than one cup. Americans tend to gulp their coffee, dumping what they don’t drink or watering their plants with it (my mother’s plants were always perky!)
Resembling brown water, it is less effective than Turkish coffee or espresso which is much more concentrated. There is a Croatian expression – “Manje ali slađe” – literally, it means “less but sweeter”, but in reality, it means, better a little of something great than a lot of something mediocre.
A FEW PLACES KNOWN FOR GOOD COFFEE
Wellington, New Zealand
Buenos Aires, Argentina
San Francisco, CA
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina
Calorie Tip: For those who drink a lot of milky coffee drinks, consider using Non-Fat or Low-Fat milk. Coffee drinks with high milk fat can add up. A sneaky source of calories, most coffee houses automatically serve whole milk unless you tell them otherwise.
Easier on the Stomach
The short black and Turkish coffee versions are great after a long night or for those who have a pretty strong, ironed clad stomach. Depending on how sensitive the person, a little bit of bread, biscotti or similar can be eaten before the first black coffee – especially when taken first thing in the morning. There are those who have a short black with a cigarette at 6 am, which is too much of a shock for me, at least.
Milk – also known as “Clouds in My Coffee”
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?Oh, you had me several years ago
When I was still naive
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and
You’re So Vain, by Carly Simon
If you need a little cushion first thing in the morning, there are levels of milk cushioning. The macchiato contains the least amount of milk – just a dab to mark the espresso. It’s great for an afternoon wake-up call, too, especially if you find yourself dozing off at your desk after lunchtime!
The cafe au lait is half warmed milk and half brewed coffee, which is still kind of a lightweight coffee drink. It’s a good choice for an exec that has to meet with clients all day with the obligatory cup of coffee. You won’t get wired on this baby, and because it’s larger, it can be leisurely enjoyed and savored.
Even more milk? Well, the cappuccino uses 2/3 milk BUT the drink is made with dark and strong espresso beans. So technically, it’s practically a tie with the Cafe Au Lait.
The Cappuccino especially lends itself to an optional spice or chocolate topping, adding to the flavor combinations.
- Short black espresso
Brew ground espresso in an Italian coffee machine and serve, with or without sugar.
Good any time of day. It may cause sleeplessness, 4however, and may be limited to daytime only.
2. Coffee with milk – steamed
Brew ground coffee in a similar machine. In a separate pot using a long nozzle, bob the pot up and down to create foam and serve.
Acceptable to drink any time of day, only not immediately after a meal. (Milk after meals is not recommended.)
3. Coffee with milk – cold
Same as the above, simply add cold milk from the carton and gently stir.
This is a good choice in the summer when it is hot, and milk may go bad when reheated more than once in a commercial coffee shop.
4. White Coffee / Cafe Au Lait
Consisting of Brewed coffee with heated milk, at a 50-50% ratio.
Commercial whiteners may be substituted.
5. Macchiato (mak-kee-yah-to)
Consisting of a shot of brewed espresso, it’s “marked” with a teaspoonful of milk foam.
Macchiato means “marked” in Italian.
Prepared in three layers, first is brewed espresso, then latte (warm milk) and finally, milk foam.
The top of the foam can be dusted with cinnamon, chocolate powder, etc.
MILK, LECHE OR LATTE
Allergic to Cow’s Milk? There’s always Soy Milk
Many lactose sensitive or intolerant coffee lovers have turned to the surprisingly tasty substitute of soy milk. Some types of soy milk are even flavored – vanilla, chocolate, and low-fat varieties, so have a ball. In Europe, soy milk is usually a bit higher (latest – 2€) but in the US the prices are much more reasonable. Best of all, it foams up like a dream!.
(Health Note: It is said that Soy Milk is great for women going through the change of life, i.e. menopause.)
The South American and Mexican cultures are long familiar with rice milk. I have never used it but it could probably be a delicious milk substitute to dilute your cup of Joe with.
Other Milk Substitutes
My mother used to use Mocha Mix – that is the only other one that comes to mind (except for dry powders like Coffee Mate).
You can try “Oatmeal Milk”!
It’s not bad! Moistened oats produce a type of milk when soaked overnight in water. You then use a strainer or cheesecloth to squeeze out the milk product from the oats.
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CROATIAN LANGUAGE Bonus:
In Croatian simply say “Jesi za kavu?” (are you for coffee) or “Hoćemo ići na kavu?” (shall we go to coffee) and you will immediately meet new friends!