Does travelling as a vegan mean you miss out on the local cuisine? Not in Bosnia it does not! No trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina is complete without trying a traditional Bosnian coffee. Furthermore, the best part is that Bosnian coffee is accidentally vegan! No dairy is present in this wonderfully strong and warm beverage.
Where better to enjoy Bosnian coffee than in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Sarajevo is a true melting pot of cultures. One moment you feel as if you are in the orient, standing outside a striking mosque and a bustling bazar. The next you have been transported to streets lined with classical Austrian architecture which remind one of lazy evenings wondering around Vienna. One experience, however, is undeniably part of a national heritage which cannot be found anywhere else on the globe: Bosnian Coffee.
To the uncultured coffee enthusiasts amongst us, Bosnian coffee appears to be exactly the same as Turkish coffee. Thick black liquid swirls in the beautiful tin džezva at Café Vienna. The middle-aged waiter glances judgingly in our direction to make sure we follow the exact art of pouring and drinking Bosnian Coffee.
Bosnians fiercely guard the uniqueness of Bosnian coffee, quickly supressing any ideas that it is the same as Turkish coffee. Bosnian coffee is regarded as an art form. Coffee is part of the Bosnian way of life. Walking around the labyrinthine alleyways in Sarajevo you cannot help but notice how the aroma of fresh beans fill the air.
If you ask a Sarajevan local what they do in their spare time, they will reply that they love to drink coffee. There are even particular names for the situation in which the coffee is drunk. For example, ‘dočekuša’ is coffee given to welcome guests compared to a ‘pričusa’ which is coffee drunk in the company of friends.
Bosnian Coffee at Vienna Cafe in Hotel Europe
Make sure you learn how to prepare and drink Bosnian coffee properly otherwise you risk upsetting the proud locals who drink this black nectar up to 5 times a day. There are dozens of places to try this local vegan delicacy, but we choose the Viennese restaurant at Hotel Europe to enjoy our first vegan Bosnian coffee. As Sarajevo is such a melting pot, we felt this Austrian style restaurant serving Bosnian delicacies would be a perfect blend of multiculturalism. Furthermore, the Viennesse café, known locally as ‘Bečka kafana’ was the most famous café in Sarajevo during Austro-Hungarian era. Vienna Café in Sarajevo is now once more very popular due to its history and incredibly opulent interior.
Alex and I were sitting on plush red seats in the Vienna Cafe & Restaurant. In front of us stood a stunning tin džezva which contained our piping hot coffee and a decorative fildžan to drink from. A glass of water and several sugar cubes where also placed on the bronze tray as well. We were about to enjoy our first accidently vegan Bosnian coffee.
How to drink Bosnian coffee
The process of drinking Bosnian coffee begins with the fluffy foam that nestles on top of the boiling coffee beneath in the džezva. Spoon some of the foam into the miniature cup placed next to the džezva. Then using the long, decorative handle gently pour some of the coffee into the foam.
If you like your coffee sweet, do as the Bosnians do and dip the sugar cube into the hot coffee, then place it on your tongue. You then sip your coffee and drink it through the sugar cube. Sometimes Bosnian coffee is served with rahat lokum, also known as Turkish delight. Rahat Lokum is traditionally vegan as it is made of sugar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, water, cornflour and flavourings.
Enjoy the traditional Bosnian slow life and leisurely sip your deliciously aromatic coffee.
I take a sip and enjoy the rich flavours. Alex takes a sip as well and smiles. Our vegan Bosnian Coffee was incredibly delicious! Alex bravely tried some of the sugar cube but we both preferred the coffee without extra sweetness.
Bosnian coffee is a needy delicacy which demands constant attention. If the coffee is not strong enough, stir the coffee to encourage the coffee grounds huddled at the bottom to rise. If the coffee is too strong for your liking, you must wait for the coffee grounds to sink. Bosnian coffee rewards a penalty with a mouthful of bitty grounds for the hastier amongst us. Therefore, sit back, take in your surroundings and enjoy the process of making your coffee just as much as actually consuming it.
Best Places to try vegan Bosnian coffee in Sarajevo
If you don’t fancy the very stylish Café Vienna at Hotel Europe, there are plenty of other cafes to try vegan Bosnian coffee. See the list below for more places to try the black nectar.
Café Barometar – for a slightly quirky and more urban experience consider Café Barometar. The rustic exposed brick walls are adorned with metal piping and strange hanging lamps. In the daytime, the café is a great place to enjoy an excellent Bosnian coffee, while towards the evening the beers start to flow.
Kuća Sevdaha – for a very traditional experience stop at Kuća Sevdaha. This venue is particular pleasant in the summer time as you can be seated into the courtyard area. The restaurant is very traditional therefore the café’s menu is typically Bosnian with particularly rich coffee, as well as eastern sweet desserts.
Ramis Coffee and Cake Shop – another excellent option for a sunny day is Ramis Coffee and Cake Shop. Purchase your Bosnian coffee and sip leisurely on it on the sunny outdoor terrace.
Caffe Bar SOS – for a less touristy choice visit Caffe Bar SOS. The owner used to be a sailor hence the name and the nautical theme throughout the venue. This option is near the university and is popular with students. Yet whilst they are in the lectures the café is fairly quiet making this a lovely choice to escape the crowds of Old Town Sarajevo.
Žuta Tabija Café – for the best view with your coffee head upwards to Žuta Tabija Café. This café is situated next to the historial Yellow Bastion. Head up there in the summer months as the café shuts during the colder months due to its reliance on outside seating. Yet in the warmer months this café is perfect to watch the sun rise or set over the city of Sarajevo. For a Bosnian coffee with a view head to Žuta Tabija Café.
Rahatlook – For a very cosy experience check out Rahatlook. It is located in the centre of Sarajevo. Rahatlook offers great Bosnian coffee and also fresh homemade juices.
Čajdžinica Džirlo – If you really don not fancy a cup of coffee and you are more of a tea drinker check out Čajdžinica Džirlo. This beautifully quaint tea house offer over 45 different blends of tea. Sit yourself down on the floor cushions next to eastern rugs and sip on your tea as you do not follow the crowd.
Would you like to try Bosnian coffee?
Have any of you been inspired to try this Bosnian coffee? Let us know in the comments below if you would like to try this hot beverage in Sarajevo.
Also for more things to see and do in Sarajevo check out our post about visiting the abandoned bob sleigh track in Sarajevo.