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Converted to coffee

Coffee in sarajevo

A mate of mine once told me that you know when you hit the Balkans: the coffee gets good. Finding myself in the old town market in Sarajevo, I sat down beside this old woman at a table outside a café. I asked the lady of the house for a coffee with milk. She shook her head. I asked for a Nescafé – I knew I wasn’t in Serbia but I was close enough to hope that the Nescafé concept might have leaked over the border. She shook her head again. Wine? Shake. Beer? Shake. She said something and at a complete loss for a reply, I nodded. This was a one-item menu.

I got a traditional Turkish coffee served with two cubes of sugar and a square of Turkish Delight. The coffee looked like mud. Something that reminded me of pond scum floated on the top. It poured like treacle, and the word ‘oleaginous’  came to mind. I don’t take sugar – and I never have coffee without milk. But when in Rome – or Sarajevo – I did as the locals do. And, as years of conditioning condensed and melted away, I found myself enjoying the experience.

Perhaps it was the market though – the ambiance? But no. The next day and the day after, I tried it again, both at the hotel and at the conference room. I was in danger of becoming addicted – not to the coffee, but to that rush I got when the caffeine hit my veins and shocked me awake. And to the leisurely pace at which each tiny cup is sipped. I could live this life…

Coffee in sarajevo

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7 Responses

  1. I remember the very first time that I came to Hungary, many-many moons past, by train all the way as one didn’t fly all over in those distant days. We reached the frontier at Hegyeshalom in the small hours and round came officialdom, too tired to be difficult, closely followed by a man with an aluminium jug who offered everyone ‘fekete’ – I’m old-fashioned enough still to use the word, rather than ‘espresso’. The jug was battered, the cup was chipped, but the fekete was memorable. Such was Hungary – superficially a bit iffy at times, but what really mattered was surely there.

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