How To Buy An Authentic Bosnian Coffee Set
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
If you spend any time at all in Bosnia And Herzegovina, especially in Mostar or Sarajevo, you will see shop after shop selling beautiful coffee sets. You’ll be tempted to buy for beauty, and there are so many varieties, and prices, it boggles the eye!
To back up in time – Sarajevo was founded in the 15th century by the Ottoman Empire. They occupied it for 400 years. The coffee and mosques are influenced by Ottoman Empire.
Lest you think Bosnian coffee is the same as Turkish coffee, shame on you! You’ll quickly see that things are called “Bosnian” because they did it their way! From food to coffee to fashion, they have added their own influence. Don’t believe me? Here’s a very important distinction between the two coffees. Turkish coffee is thick, like mud, the grounds are part of the thickness, and you swallow those grounds with your coffee. Bosnian coffee is prepared differently, and the goal is to get the grounds to the bottom of your coffee filter, create a crema on top, and drink only the coffee.
I was, at first, drawn to the multitude of patterns, colors, shapes and sizes, like the ones pictured above and just below. But then, I saw Bosnian coffee sets in every shop both in Mostar and in Sarajevo. I began to wonder about the difference in prices, and why cafes tended to serve the coffee in the metallic colored coffee pots, and yet stores had so many other varieties. Good thing I questioned this before buying!
I noticed, as I walked from shop to shop, that sometimes I heard a distinct “clink clink clink” of metal on metal from inside. In those shops, there was a man (always a man) hammering metal. I researched a bit, and what I learned is, this is the most important part of your shopping experience.
It turns out, some of the coffee sets are cheap because they are machine made. A shop with a man hammering means that he is putting his stamp on each peace, verifying that he has personally made each item. Do not buy any coffee set without a handmaker’s stamp.
I decided to buy my coffee set from a man in Sarajevo whose shop was well reviewed, and who, as it turned out, was also a lovely man. The shops are essentially distinguished by their signs which are the family name of the handmaker inside. So, it isn’t easy to Google. The shop I went to was called Ferhatovic Adnan, on Kazandziluk 6. Here’s a video I found of the man I bought my set from.
He explained to me that the colored sets were newer, but the traditional Bosnian coffee sets are metallic (and also less expensive!) I had wanted to get a few little coffee spoons to go with my set, but he didn’t sell any. I questioned why not, and he explained they’re cheap Turkish imports, and, as a shop that handmakes each item, they don’t want to sell imports. Aha! Another way to spot whether or not your coffee set is authentic. Here’s a photo of my gorgeous Bosnian coffee set. And, below, an example of a handmade stamp. Each stamp has the handmaker’s name in the middle.
The coffee sets ranged in price, around 30 Bosnian marks on the cheaper end and 80 marks and up (around $50 USD) on the expensive end. The set I chose was 50 marks, about $26 USD. However, the shopmaker and I had a lovely chat and he ended up giving me 10 marks discount, so I paid only 40 marks, about $21 USD. Below is a close-up of the plate that comes with the set.
Once you buy your set, make sure you know how to make the coffee! Bonus – if you want the right grind for your coffee set, for about $5-10, you can find a manual coffee grinder as well. Here is how I was told to make the coffee.
- boil water
- put 1 or 2 small spoonfulls of ground coffee into your Bosnian coffee pot
- pour boiling water over the grinds
- Turn on a gas stove and heat the coffee pot with the water and grinds in it till it boils
- Remove from heat and allow to sit for a moment so the grinds fall to the bottom
- Stir gently, lifting spoon up and out of the pot, then back in, until you have a white crema
- Drink your coffee, or, disolve some sugar in your mouth beforehand
You may be wondering, what grind do you need to make your Bosnian coffee. Well, there’s a coffee grinder for that!
I enjoyed having Bosnian coffee in different cafes because each one had its own version of the sweetness that goes with the coffee. A piece of Turkish (or Bosnian) delight was always provided, as were sugar cubes. One place in Sarajevo (Dzirlo Tea House) had a delightful sweet drink that accompanied the coffee that you could drink inbetween sips to sweeten your experience.
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I seriously regret not buying one of these while I was in Sarajevo… I guess I’ll just have to go back!
I know! They are so beautiful and a fun way to mix up your weekly coffees. 😁
this is definitely the kind of souvenir that would appeal to me AND I would use it too. I have an Ibrik and I have used it many times, it’s fun when guests are over. I prefer the metal sets to the brightly colored ones. Just wait…I’m sure I will add one to my “museum case” in the next couple of years because we plan Sarajevo soon. I’ll hold on to this post to refer to and hopefully visit the same shop. Thanks Heather.
Yes!! I love having lots of different ways to make coffee. I’m bummed the boil up one I wanted in Italy that was on Amazon disappeared lol. But this one is sooo authentic and not on Amazon so feels even more special and useful too!
One of the most exciting posts in the last few weeks. I would love to buy a Bosnian coffee set for my home as well.