Coffee culture in Croatia
Cultural differences, habits, and way of living describe the national mentality, its remains, and overall heritage. The impact the country’s history has on everyday life is huge and it can be seen through many layers of society. Many invisible nuances are those that make the overall impression on us as travelers and explorers.
We can all agree that the culture of coffee drinking influenced the whole world, and as an important economical and social factor, it also made a huge impact on the tourism industry. The culture of coffee drinking is the most widespread habit in the world connecting people in a simple act of getting together, taking a break, and trying to regain focus and energy.
Often seen as a simple drink and a call for socializing, the coffee culture of the country says a lot about its social and economical standing.
There is evidence of people using coffee for health purposes in writings dating back to 900 BC, but no one is entirely sure when it was first discovered. The plant originates from Ethiopia, where drinking coffee made from dried and roasted seeds started to be a daily habit. The ritual of making and drinking coffee soon spread throughout the world.
In the 16th century, Turkey developed the daily custom of coffee drinking. In Europe coffee was introduced by the Venetian physician Prospero Alpini. The area on today’s Croatia and wider was influenced by both Turkey and Venice and left us with rich historical and cultural remains. Research indicates that coffee was brought to our region by the Turks in the 16th century, and there is evidence mentioning coffee in Dubrovnik at the beginning of the 17th century.
Coffee in everyday life
At first, coffee was popularized on the mainland. People on the coast and islands had their siesta, and people on the mainland either worked hard or were part of the urban culture. Both easily adopted this habit, either to energize or to participate in the cultural life of the city. Ritual of coffee drinking spread so quickly that such differentiation cannot be applied anymore. Coffee became an important part of everyday life in Croatia. Known as a nation that likes to socialize, coffee drinking nowadays is equally rooted in all areas of the country.
For someone who’s coming from a different cultural climate, it is very easy to adapt and enjoy like a local. If you are a traveler on your mission to explore Croatia, having a coffee for hours might be the right thing to do. Sitting for hours, chatting, or just quietly enjoying your company and your coffee is very common for Croatians. It is also very common to start a conversation with anyone as if you knew each other for years. This is a great way to find out about the country firsthand and to understand the way Croatians live, think, and communicate. It is no wonder there were so many tries in history to prohibit coffee and cafes. It presents freedom to get out of the hectic world, relax, enjoy the moment and share it with anyone around. Sounds a little bit idealistic? Maybe, but it gets down to that.
Macchiato or Turkish coffee?
So, what kind of coffee Croatians drink?
As earlier mentioned Croatia was influenced both by Turks and Venetians. At home, it is common to prepare simple black coffee made in Turkish coffeepot with precisely defined rules. It is not possible to order this coffee in a cafe, but that's fine because in the cafes Croatians drink espresso or macchiato. Being a tourist country the offer became wide and diverse, but remember if you order a coffee you will get expresso, or you will be asked if you want your coffee with or without milk. Macchiato, coffee with milk, small coffee with milk, white coffee… We also get confused and make mistakes, but in the end, we’re happy to get a coffee and relax.
Rush hour in cafes, and more importantly in specific cafes is also part of our cultural identity. This phenomenon is tightly connected with our working habits and our need to socialize. More precisely, the office can be under the sun as well as fun can be in the office. Coffee rush hour at 11 AM in downtown, especially on Saturdays, is a proper event. Everyone goes out in the sun to meet with their friends, colleagues and comment on their work, plans, or that beautiful dress the girl just across is wearing. Coffee rush hour or as we call it špica (literally seed, the compressed diversity) becomes a surreal place with different people, an office, a park, a playground, or a fashion show. Špica is a vibrant place full of interesting people, stories, scenes, situations, and it is also a great place to experience the country.
To meet one’s country means to understand its culture, history, its everyday life, as well as its diversities. If you’re in Croatia don’t forget to grab a coffee, meet new people and enjoy long conversations.
*enjoy in Dalmatia