Coffee, that dark beverage with an intense taste and aroma that enchants the senses, is popular worldwide. In Croatia, people love it as one of the most cherished rituals and social customs. They are 19th on the list of the world’s biggest coffee drinkers, according to one study: Croats consume up to 6 kilos of coffee per person per year. Besides drinking coffee, people appreciate the design and decoration of the place where they drink it, and café bars have taken heed. Coffee drinkers in Croatia fill outdoor patios and indoor cafes alike, looking – and no doubt feeling – quite at home.
Coffee culture in Croatia is an eclectic mixture of Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, and Italian cultures. Turkish coffee is a great example of how Croatia’s history with Turkey has influenced its culture. The Turkish method of preparing coffee is still the preferred way to enjoy coffee in Croatian homes, especially when visitors come over.
In the 18th century, with the emergence of the Austro-Hungarian era, coffee culture became an opulent, hedonistic affair thanks to the introduction of coffee bars and cafes. The first café in Croatia opened in 1748 on Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb and served coffee, tea, and chocolate. The most recent influence on Croatia’s coffee culture is Italian espresso. Italians may swallow espressos in one go, but Croatians made a ritual out of drinking espresso. They prolonged their enjoyment of coffee with friends, family, and colleagues, whether for pleasure or business.
Coffee in Croatia has a social function. To suggest “let’s go for coffee” means much more than just drinking it. In Croatia, Saturday morning is a very special day for enjoying the aroma and flavor of coffee, and this is how the so-called špica, cafes became both a fashion runway and an excellent source of the latest gossip. Coffee spots will catch your eye for different reasons; many new ones have opened, each trying to attract customers in a unique way, some by creating a themed site for their guests.
The word “hurry” is foreign to Croats. While elsewhere, the daily ritual of drinking coffee is often rushed, in Croatia, you can drink coffee for hours, mostly with friends and family, one of many reasons tourists are attracted to Croatia’s laid-back lifestyle. So, if you are in Croatia, enjoy some kava and don’t rush things. It’s not a “coffee break” here – so take a slow sip and enjoy.
Croatian National Theatre.