Even today, 136 years after the Ottomans ceded it to Austria-Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina shows many signs of its nearly four centuries of Turkish rule: the architecture, the occasional shared word, the complimentary glass of rakija after dinner. But where other countries in Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa still serve what is essentially Turkish coffee (they use the same methods and finely ground beans; they just give the drink a regional name)
Biggest difference between Bosnian and Turkish coffee is in the process.
Both start out with roasted coffee beans that are pulverised into a fine powder and cooked in a small (generally) copper-plated pot with a long neck, called a džezva (or cezve in Turkish). But the Turks add the coffee and optional sugar to cold water before placing it on the stove. When preparing Bosnian coffee, the cold water goes on the stove alone.
After coming to a boil, a small amount of water is set aside. The coffee is then added to the džezva and put back onto the stove for a few seconds, allowing the liquid to boil yet again, rise to the point of overflowing and create a thick foam. This process may be repeated several times. Then the hot water that had been set aside is added.
To all but the biggest connoisseurs, these differences seem minute. But adding the hot water at the end creates even thicker foam, and adding the coffee later in the process often creates a more robust flavour in the already intense coffee. At least that’s what I was told when I received my Bosnian coffee making certificate from Rahatlook, a lovely café in Baščaršija that offers a quick, somewhat gimmicky lesson in the procedure.
Turkish coffee is served in a single small cup; Bosnian coffee is served in a full džezva (which holds three cups of coffee) on a round iron tray with an empty, ceramic cup, a glass of water, a dish full of sugar cubes and a rahat lokum, a Bosnian candy that foreigners might call Turkish delight.
When you’re ready for your coffee, first take a sip of water. Spoon out a layer of foam from the top, then pour from the džezva before adding the foam to the cup (after all, Bosnian coffee with no foam is no Bosnian coffee at all). If you want sugar, don’t plop it in your drink; instead, take a bite from one of the cubes on your tray and put it under your tongue to dissolve as you sip.
Bosnian coffee is more than tradion, it’s way of life and the best way to socialize with the people. If you Visit Bosnia, visit Sarajevo or Mostar, and many other beatiful cities in Bosnia, you will see that many local people are drinking Bosnian coffee and somethimes they can talk for hours, just with one cup of coffee. Really unique experience.