KAVA. You will probably hear this magical word a lot during your stay in Croatia. This word makes time stop for a moment every day. As kids, every morning we would wake up to the smell of a fresh pot of Turkish coffee - and that hasn’t changed, only now we have to make it ourselves and we also get to drink it! You will find a Turkish pot (the narrow one with just one handle) on all of our boats along with a French press, an Italian Moka pot and everything for filter coffee (I had to find its nationality too – it was invented by a German housewife Melitta Bentz). And at the bottom, you will find the recipe how I make Turkish coffee (although I don’t think I have come across two people who prepare it the same way) and Moka coffee (I am half Italian after all).
‘Ajmo na kavu’. Although this sounds like an innocent ‘let’s grab a cup of coffee’ (not coffee to go, that is not a thing here yet), if you have been invited for a coffee, I hope you have time to sit and drink even the shortest espresso for I don’t know, 40 minutes – 1 hour.
This is a way of life, the measurement of happiness and success. Our day begins with coffee. We go for coffee to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while. With colleagues that we see every single day. We go on coffee dates. Business meetings. Job interviews.
Or just to sit alone, go through your phone, read the newspaper…
We like our coffee strong and simple – with no sprinkles, flavors, spices… There is coffee. There is sugar. And there is milk (and some places have some plant-based alternatives).
And although the base is simple, boy can we complicate it – ‘one big coffee with warm milk, but no foam, one small coffee with just two drops of cold milk and one brown sugar, one long espresso but in a big cup, to the top (why?!), one Nescafé vanilla with looooots of foam, one white coffee with veeery hot milk and one Coca Cola with a slice of lemon but no ice’ (Coke just loves being paired with coffee). If you were a student in Croatia, you probably worked as a waiter at one point of your life so our memory skills are quite something.
Long story short, here is how to order coffee in Croatia:
Espresso – we also call it ‘obična’ kava (plain coffee, Italian style since the Turkish one we make only at home). Small sized cup, usually very short and foamy
Espresso + a little bit of warm, foamy milk = Veliki macchiato (Large macchiato). Middle sized mug
Espresso + a few drops of warm milk = Mali macchiato (Small macchiato). Small sized mug
Espresso + a lot of milk foam, powdered with cocoa = Cappuccino. Middle sized mug
Espresso + a lot of warm milk = Bijela kava (close to a latte). Big sized mug
Nescafé - in case you like instant coffee, you can order a classic or flavored like vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut... Big sized mug
Cedevita (a great substitute for Coke) - multivitamin granules that you dissolve in a glass of water. It is said this drink has 9 vitamins – we have believed this since 1969. The most usual flavors are orange and lemon, but some places might have some more fancy flavors too, like elderflower or lime.
Water – yes, we are one of the lucky ones that has drinkable tap water. So, you can just ask for a glass of tap water when ordering your coffee. If you are on an island, in a remote bay with a small restaurant or bar (aren’t you lucky?), the water supply might be limited and you might have to order bottled water. Fancier restaurants will most likely only serve bottled water, but you can at least try asking for tap one.
I think I need a coffee break. If you need me, you will find me in my favorite coffee shop (I will share more info via email – I have to make sure I will have a table when I get there).
What was your favorite coffee place in Croatia? Aside from that quiet bay where you had your first morning coffee on the boat before jumping in the crystal-clear sea...
How I would prepare coffee if you visited me at home:
TURKISH COFFEE (for two people): Put half a liter of water into the pot and add 3-4 teaspoons of sugar (optional). Bring to boil. Remove from stove and add 5 (mountain) teaspoons of coffee (that’s how I was taught – two teaspoons per person + one teaspoon for Mrs. Turkish Pot). Stir it all in and put back on stove. Bring to boil (let the coffee foam), remove from stove. Let it boil once more and that’s it. Pour it into cups and let it sit for a few minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cups. Add milk (also optional).
MOKA COFFEE (for all the espresso lovers out there): Fill the bottom with water. Add the filter thingy (the water should just slightly cover the bottom). Add coffee, make a little mountain, but don’t press the coffee, just shape it. Screw on the Moka pot’s spouted top. Bring to boil, pour into cup and add sugar and milk (optional).