The word kahva (coffee) was introduced to the languages of people in this region from the Turkish word “kahve” which came from the Arabic word “qahwah”. Coffee made its way to this region from Yemen and Arabia, through Istanbul and along the Balkan with the Ottomans.
At first, it was served exclusively in the houses of the rich people, however, it didn’t remain a privilege of the rich ones for a long time. Coffee houses started to open up in Sarajevo’s carsija and they quickly became centers of social life. This custom started to spread to the streets of Sarajevo, entering every house and becoming an essential part of everyday life of its residents.
Soon enough, the area around Careva Mosque became home to the carsija for the Tahmis guild, whose members, so called “Tahmiscije”, roasted and sold coffee. The coffee was roasted in a large round metal pan “sis” that had a long handle which allowed the “sis” to be held and heated evenly over the open fire.
Industrialization took its part and changed this costume, and today you can only occasionally find shop in Sarajevo today in which coffee is still roasted. But there are still numerous coppersmith’s shops at Bascarsija, where coppersmiths are still making copper items for making and serving coffee.
A complete Bosnian coffee set is called a kahveni takum and includes a tabla (copper tray) with a dzezva (a pot with a handle, which is where the coffee is boiled), secerluk (a container for sugar and Bosnian sweet) and fildzani (demitasses without handles).
Sometimes there was a difference between fildzan for male and female. Men used to drink stronger coffee and very often with everyone with whom they have meet during the day, so their fildzan was “as small as an eye.” Female fildzan was slightly bigger, and the women in the old days were usually drinking lighter coffee, or they would add some milk in it.
“Serbetnjak” (a pitcher or other container used for boiling water) is also needed when preparing coffee. The ground or pounded coffee is first placed in a dzezva and then some boiled water is added, but not all the way to the rim.
Then the content of the pot is thoroughly mixed, after which the pot is returned back to the heat in order for coffee “to go up,” but never to boil over. Coffee is then left to “go down”, after which it is poured in fildzan. Sugar and rahatluk (Bosnian sweet) are served separately and added, according to wishes of those who drink coffee.
In traditional cafes, coffee must be served with a glass of water. You should take a sip of water before actually tasting the coffee. This will clean the palate and allow you to taste the full and robust flavor of the coffee.
Since Bosnian coffee is the backbone of social life in B&H for centuries, different names for coffee evolved over time, depending on the circumstances in which coffee was drunk.
The first coffee of the morning, which is made strong enough to refresh you and wake you up, is called razgalica. At some point later in the morning, or before the afternoon coffee, there is razgovorusa, which is drunk to encourage socializing and conversation. Sutkusa is drunk in the peace and quiet of the early evening. Docekusa is drunk when entertaining guests and sikterusa is given as a subtle hint that it’s time to end up the socializing and that the guests should leave!