Wherever you look in Croatia, you’ll find people in cafes. What lies behind this tradition and, BTW, what is the average price of a cup of coffee or tea in Croatia?
- a average price of a (basic) cup of espresso is 1.5 euros. The more drops of milk you add, the more expensive it gets.
- a cup of tea is often more expensive than coffee (up to 2 euros) because it’s usually served by default with lemon and honey. Why? Because tea, (black tea in particular), is normally taken as a medicine to soothe too frequent bowel movements. Usually, only sick people have tea. Or people with frostbites.
- sitting by a cup of coffee for hours is one of the main, even quintessential ingredients of the Croatian lifestyle. This may well be the reason why Croatian economy is not doing too well.
Interestingly, the price of coffee in Croatia is among the highest in Europe. Still, the cafes seem full. Why is this the case? And how to order coffee in Croatia?
How To Order Coffee In Croatia
Coffee making in Croatia endeavours to rely on the Italian tradition. So, if you’re familiar with Italian coffee, you’ll do well in Croatia. Croatian cafes and restaurants constantly improve the technology they use, as well as the quality of the ingredients. However, there may still be discrepancies between what you expect to get and what you actually get in Croatia.
The most popular version of coffee in Croatia is the king of all coffees – espresso. A properly prepared espresso should run for 25 seconds, and you should get twice the weight of the coffee put in to make the espresso.
If the coffee is ground too coarsely, flew out too quickly or if too little coffee was used , then the espresso will be pale, it will lack cream and it will be bitter and sour. If the coffee is finely ground, flows too slowly or if too much coffee is used, then the espresso will probably appear dark with white dots on the cream and will be bitter.
An espresso should fill about a little less than half of a small cup. A well-prepared espresso can be taken without sugar, because in this way all the flavors in coffee are best felt.
Espresso can still be short (ristretto) and extended (lungo). It should be noted that with extended espresso, the coffee is not allowed to flow for longer than the desired 25 seconds, but hot water from the coffee machine is added to the espresso, and it is also served in a small cup.
In Italy, it is customary to drink espresso exclusively at the bar, so that the coffee does not get cold and in order to get the best possible taste. Before drinking espresso, it is customary to rinse the throat with a glass of water – usually mineral water.
In Croatia, a glass of tap water is also served with any coffee you order. However, you usually drink it AFTER the coffee.
Instant coffee is also gaining popularity in Croatia.
In most cafes you can get several varieties of beverages based on instant coffee. They are usually super sweet and intensely flavoured.
Not surprisingly, they are among the most expensive hot beverages you can order.
Coffee With Milk (Bijela Kava)
After espresso, various coffees with added milk are mostly ordered. High-quality milk heated with a steam sprayer should be silky and bubbly-free. It is most rewarding to use fresh and chilled milk.
Croatians usually order a beverage they call “bijela kava”. Literally, it means “white coffee”. However, it simply means that some MILK has been added to the espresso. Well, not just some. It should fill a large cup. This is what is sometimes implied in Croatia when you say macchiato.
The word macchiato in Italian means “stained”. So that is exactly what caffè macchiato should actually look like – a small spoonful of milk cream is added to the prepared espresso. The correct term is caffè macchiato, while espresso macchiato is sometimes used.
Over time, the amount of milk in caffè macchiato has increased, so that now almost everywhere in the world it is made by pouring milk cream all the way to the top of an espresso cup.
In Croatia, of course, caffè macchiato is made in all possible and impossible ways: somewhere in a small espresso cup, elsewhere in a cappuccino cup, so espresso is combined with warm milk or cold milk…
It consists of one espresso and heated milk. It is prepared in two ways: the first says that it consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 heated milk and 1/3 milk foam, and the second way – which is currently the most common in the world – says that heated creamy milk is carefully poured into a cup to get a certain drawing on coffee (latte art).
In addition to normal cappuccino, dry cappuccino can also be made. It is made by making a thicker foam so that when pouring on the espresso the surface is white with cream. In Croatia, probably the most extreme version of dried cappuccino is made. Often no milk is added, only foam.
Again, this is usually called “white coffee” in Croatia.
It can be prepared in two ways. The first is caffè latte, and it is made by adding espresso to a large ceramic cup and adding milk to the coffee. Another way is latte macchiato, which is done by, unlike caffè latte, first putting milk in a glass and then pouring espresso on top.
It is done by adding one or two espressos to the hot water and serving it in a large cup. It is advisable to remove the cream with a spoon to make the coffee less bitter. The taste is similar to filter coffees.
In Croatia, this version of coffee is sometimes referred to as “produžena” or “long”. My wife usually orders a small espresso in a large cup and pours some water into the cup herself, to make the perfect dilution.
How To Order Tea In Croatia?
I often order tea because coffee makes me all shaky, the same way it makes Garfield shaky.
The way I have my tea in Croatia is seen as unusual and even repulsive to some. I order tea with milk!
Often I have to be very detailed and descriptive about the way I want them to do it. For instance, on a number of occasions I was served hot water with cold milk already added in the water, with the teabag in the cup.
I will never forget when I was once served GREEN TEA with milk. It really had a peculiar flavour!
When you mention tea to Croatians, the first thing on their mind in CHAMOMILE tea. Then MINT tea. Then ROSE HIP tea. Then FRUIT tea (the more artificially flavoured, the better). Then GREEN tea. And finally BLACK tea (often referred to as INDIAN tea).
Rosehip tea is actually among the healthiest choices you can make in a cafe.
Packed with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, it helps you maintain a strong immune system.
Conveniently, YOU chose how much sugar you add. So it’s a great support if you’re on a diet!
There is a general idea in Croatia that black tea is either too strong, or too caffeinated or too medicinal.
In fact, black tea is regularly prescribed by medical doctors to people (or children) suffering from sudden onset of frequent bowel movements. Hence, taking black tea without a valid reason would make you constipated!
Tea, in general, and I mean all teas, have this medicinal aura. That is the reason why you’ll be charged for a slice of lemon and a bag of honey, too. (On average, 12-15 kunas (close to 2 euros)).
Since adding milk to tea is repulsive to most Croatians, even if you order tea with milk, they would nevertheless bring you some lemon with it. And honey.
Fortunately, most cafes and restaurants in tourist areas have been familiarised with the strange habit of some people to take black tea just for fun, so they would know what to do.
If you want to be sure, though, clearly say how you want your tea. Specify that they leave the bag outside of the cup, bring the milk in a separate cup and drop the lemon or honey.
Coffee As The Important Element Of Croatian Lifestyle
There was an article in a local newspaper about a young Croatian woman who moved to Chile, South America. This is what she wrote about what she misses most from Croatia: the CAFES!
And no, I’m not kidding. I usually only drink water and tea, but since I moved to Santiago I miss the scent of coffee every step of the way, so that I started ordering it … Here all the cafes always serve food, so they always look at me weird when I just order coffee and sit two hours, especially when I’m alone. They don’t understand how they can sit for so long.Andrea Anković, Croatian woman who moved to Chile
To be honest, I cannot understand how you can sit in a cafe for hours. But I assume there is a benefit in it.
Croatians like to be surrounded by other people. The more – the better. Cafes are ideal places where you can be with others, watch them, let them watch you… Talk.. or not talk (especially in Dalmatia, talking is not too popular).
Since it’s not that cheap, you prolong the moment as much as you can.
Actually, Turkish coffee is THE coffee for most Croatians. This is what they brew each morning or after lunch. The sludge and all.
There is a certain bliss when you drink coffee. Croatians can savour that moment for hours, even at working hours. This may be the reason why Croatian economy in not doing great.