Turkish coffee is still the most common brew served at home in Croatia. If you are going out for coffee, expect an espresso. But when visiting friends at home, get ready for a strong and uplifting brew.
We’ll often just say ‘dodji na kavu’ (come for coffee) when the Turkish pot is already on.
Some people may emphasise they drink ‘turska kava’ (Turkish coffee). But this type of coffee is so widespread that it might as well be called Croatian coffee.
As with all things that travel across borders, adaptations are inevitable. And this is what happened to the Croatian version of Turkish coffee.
The fine grind is there and so is the dzezva coffee pot. But we are not so concerned with having a brass or copper original cezve. Our cups are larger and we also, sacrilegiously, add milk if so desired.
The brewing technique varies across the entire Croatia, including Bosnia and Hercegovina. But we’ve kept the single most important feature from the history of the Turkish coffee. The ritual and the way of drinking.
1) How to make Turkish coffee
You need two basic things to drink turska kava: Turkish coffee pot (originally called cezve) and Turkish coffee grind. In Croatia we call the pot dzezva or ibrik (in Bosnia and Hercegovina).
If you travel to Sarajevo, for example, get a gorgeous, hand-crafted copper dzezva. They say copper gives Turkish coffee a special flavour.
In Croatia, the commonest type of dzezva is made from enamel. It might not impair this elusive taste, but it has a super useful feature - a long ‘beak’. This part of dzezva allows you to pour coffee into cups without any spillage.
If you have neither, you can still make Turkish coffee in a regular pot or a saucepan.
Don’t let equipment stop you from enjoying this special coffee treat. Because, the secret to enjoying turska kava is the ritual itself.
You must share it with friends, you must sip it slowly and, above all... you have to spice it with lots of chatting, even good-hearted gossiping.
Check out the Croatian rules of small talk.
2) Turkish grind
Every Croatian shop stocks coffee that is especially ground for turska kava. This is the finest ground which resembles caster sugar.
If you can’t find the Turkish grind, use a coffee grinder. Choose any type of beans and grind them as fine as you can. Your Turkish coffee will taste best if you grind coffee just before making the pot.
Why is the grin so important? First, the coffee powder is not filtered and it needs to so fine to settle on the bottom of the pot. Second, it creates a wonderful coffee foam - the crown of turska kava. When you pour coffee into cups, your must first distribute the foam equally to each person. This is a rule.
3) How to drink Turkish coffee
Decades ago, the generation of my parents drank short, black turska kava. The cups were smaller and the brew was stronger. I had my coffee initiation at the age of 10 (I know, I know), but I was served kava in a large mug with lots of milk.
Since then, quite a few people began drinking Turkish coffee with milk. My friends from Bosnia and Hercegovina would disapprove but, hey, even coffee changes over time.
Our cups turned into mugs to allow for a more diluted brew -either with milk or made with more water.
This is why we created these Croatian enamel mugs. They are a perfect size for a turska kava we drink today.
When it comes to sugar, there are several choices. People will ask you if you like your kava less or more sweet. In either way, they will add some sugar in. You can also brew Turkish coffee with no sugar at all.
In that case, have a dessert on the side. I am thinking a homemade bajadera. Some people will also put a whole sugar cube in their mouth and then sip bitter coffee.
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Once the coffee is poured (admire that foam), wait for the powder to settle on the bottom. Here is your chance to take things slowly. Give coffee time, give yourself time. Guzzling down your turska kava might get you sideway looks from the locals.
I know a guy who drank dry his turska kava in a bar and was not charged for it. The waiter told him this was not the way to enjoy coffee - hence it didn’t count.
4) Turkish coffee recipe
Remember, you can make Turkish coffee at home even without an original pot or grind. Use any pot and grind your own beans. Pick a dessert from my free recipe library to pair it with your coffee.
Turkish Coffee Croatian style
- 600 ml cold water (3 cups)
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 6 tsp finely ground coffee (heaped)
- Pour water into a coffee pot (dzezva) and let it come to a boil.
- Add sugar (or skip if you are drinking bitter coffee).
- Pour out some of the boiling water, enough to fill a coffee cup you will be serving in. Set aside.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Add coffee and stir very gently until the mixture foams up.
- Put the pot back on the heat and allow the coffee to rise. Watch it carefully as this often happens in a second.
- Remove and let the coffee fall down. Repeat twice more so that your coffee rises and falls three times.
- Remove from the heat.
- Pour back the water from a cup that you set aside before.
- Spoon equal amounts of the foam into serving cups/mugs. Then pour out the coffee too.
- Add some milk if you wish.