My Kup Runneth Over with Kafa
Story and photos by Tom Weber
"Here in Sarajevo,
boys don't ask girls out on a date," observes Karin, our stylish
Vacations' tour director/concierge, "instead, they ask
them if they'd like to go for a coffee."
"Coffee?" we ask, dumbfounded.
"Yes," she replies matter-of-factly,
"coffee or kafa."
Cheekily, I ask Karin if she'd like to
go for a kafa with me. Without blinking an eye, she says, "Sure,
and I know just the place."
Unfortunately, I'm not alone, as the other
17 members of the intrepid "band of merry media" travel
writers and photographers invited along by Insight to sample a portion
of its Bosnia
and Dalmatian Riviera itinerary join this "date in search
of a caffeine fix," and quickly fall into step right behind Karin.
Near the so-called demarcation
line, that section of the city where the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian
Empires of old merged, stands the Hotel Europe, Insight's five-star
digs in Sarajevo. And, inside the hotel is the elegant Bečka
Kafana where our party of 18 takes a load off to savor traditional
Bosnian, not Turkish, coffee.
Bosnia has a long tradition of coffee drinking
that borders on the ridiculous and dates all the way back to the Ottomans
who, in the 15th century, introduced the daily ritual of slowly and
deliberately sipping tiny cups of Joe.
Consuming coffee is an obsession that's
woven deep into the cultural fabric, and that's why coffee, above all
other potations, has been anointed Bosnia's national beverage. No kiddin'.
Bosanska kafa begins with the roasting
of raw coffee beans. The beans are then ground to a fine powder
even finer than Italian espresso the old-fashioned way,
in a hand grinder.
Boiling water is poured into a gently heated
copper pot called a dezva, the finely ground coffee is
added and stirred, the pot placed back on the stove to boil again just
below overflow so that there's plenty of foam, and then brought to your
Coffee is served in the dezva,
which holds three cups of java, that's presented on a round tray with
an empty, ceramic fildan (small cup) and a dish full of
sugar cubes and a rahat lokum, a Bosnian candy that we stranaca
(foreigners) might irreverently call Turkish delight.
Now, stir the coffee once allowing more
foam to rise to the top and then wait a few minutes for the sludge to
settle on the bottom of the pot.
Skim off a spoonful of foam, pour the coffee
into the fildan and then introduce the foam into the cup.
If you like sugar in your coffee like I do, don't plop the cube down
into the cup, instead, take a bite of it, place it under your tongue
and then take your first sip of Bosanska kafa.
Ah, my kup runneth over with kafa.
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See you back on the motor coach in about
15 minutes or whenever I slowly and deliberately finish my THIRD
cup of kafa when we'll head to the outskirts of Sarajevo
for a chilling walk underground through the historic Tunnel of Hope.
Storied Bridge to World War I; Dinner
in Sarajevo with Mrs. Safija; Bird's-Eye
Views from Sarajevo's Yellow Fortress; Surprising
Sarajevo Dinner in Grandma's Kitchen; Destination:
Bosnia and the Dalmatian Riviera