Bosnian Coffee

Kahveni Takum or Bosnian Coffee Set

Bosnian coffee is “part of Bosnian and Herzegovinian culture and national identity”. A big deal, it’s a tradition and social ritual. Preparing Bosnian coffee isn’t as easy as using a French press or drip machine or making espresso. At first, I was clueless and asked my landlord if there was a French press coffee maker for the kitchen. The response was a slightly offended “no”, followed by a funny look.

I bought the powdery local coffee – no other choice – measured a teaspoon, put it in a cup, added boiling water, stirred, and it was awful! I mentioned this to a Bosnian who seemed approachable on the subject. He lifted his eyebrow, stared at me in disbelief, and explained the complicated process of making “proper” Bosnian coffee!

Ground Bosnian Coffee –


“In a country under foreign rule for centuries, with the atrocities of war still fresh in the collective memory, national identity gains new importance. Coffee is part of  BosniaHerzegovina’s identity.”


Rahat Lokumi Početna – GA-ME-HA

Making Bosnian Coffee

This is how to make Bosnian coffee:

  • Boil water in a small pot – šerbetnjak.
  • Put 2-3 teaspoons of Bosnian coffee in a copper-plated pot – džezva.
  • Heat the dry coffee on a hot stove for a few seconds.
  • Pour boiling water into the džezva but not all the way to the rim.
  • Stir and let it settle for a few seconds.
  • Place the džezva back on a hot stove until it boils (rises but doesn’t spill over).
  • Remove the džezva from the heat when a mousse-like foam appears on top.
  • Let the foam settle and repeat the process.
  • Scoop up the foam.
  • Pour the coffee into a tiny cup – fildžani.
  • Add the scooped up foam on top.
  • Take a sip of water and place a bite from a sugar cube under your tongue.
  • Sip your hot coffee and enjoy!

You don’t have to use a fancy copper džezva and cups but you must follow the steps precisely. One thing you should never, ever do is order “Turkish” coffee in Bosnia-Herzegovina! The two are not the same. It’s a different process.

Bosnian Coffee Utensils

“Bosnian coffee is served in a full džezva (which holds three cups of coffee) placed on a round copper tray with a ceramic cup, a glass of cold water, a dish of sugar cubes, and sometimes rahat lokum, Bosnian candy that foreigners call Turkish delight.

Bosnian Coffee Presentation

There are advantages to serving coffee in a džezva. The sludge of unfiltered coffee that forms in the bottom remains in the pot instead of your cup. This “decreases the chances of an amateur drinker ending up with a mouthful of grit” :o(. Copper-plated džezvas keep coffee hot a long time – important because “while a cup of Bosnian coffee might be small, it’s also very strong” and better when sipped slowly.

Bosnian Coffee –


Bosnians sit for hours drinking coffee, making conversation with their companions, and enjoying the small things in life.


Rahat Lokum Orah Vizual –

A complete Bosnian coffee set is called a kahveni takum and includes a tabla (copper tray) with a džezva (pot with a handle for boiling the coffee), šećerluk (container for sugar and Turkish Delight), and fildžani (demitasse cup without handles).

Bosnian Coffee – CoinaPhoto

Drinking Coffee Throughout the Day

Morning coffee – razgalica – is made strong enough to refresh and wake you up. At some point later in the morning but before afternoon coffee, there’s razgovoruša, coffee drinking to encourage socializing and conversation.

Bosnian Coffee –

Šutkuša is coffee enjoyed in the peace and quiet of early evening. Dočekuša is coffee for entertaining guests. Sikteruša is very strong coffee given as a “subtle hint that it’s time to wrap up the socializing and guests should take their leave”!

Travnik and Jajce Central Bosnia-Herzegovina

Jajce Pliva Waterfall Bosnia-Herzegovina

Wednesday was another warm, beautiful day in Sarajevo. We’ve had a run of “false spring” weather – perfect for a tour of Travnik and Jajce in Central Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two towns are historically significant and known for their national monuments.

Map Central Bosnia-Herzegovina

Travnik Clock Tower

Again, the group was small – me, Kathryn from Frankfurt, and Samir our Meet Bosnia guide. A native and former history professor, Samir was a phenomenal guide!

Travnik from Medieval Fortress

Kathryn is traveling with the German team for Sarajevo’s 2019 European Youth Olympics Festival (EYOF) held February 9 – 16. The EYOF is the largest sport festival for young athletes between 14 and 18. It’s organized by the European Olympic Committee and occurs every two years in Sarajevo. After the competition she decided to stay on for a few days to explore Sarajevo and nearby areas.

Fortress Stari Grad Travnik –

Lašva River Valley, Travnik, Ethnic Cleansing

Travnik is part of the Lašva River Valley surrounded by two mountains – Vlašić to the north and Vilenica in the south. Both mountains have great hiking trails. As we headed west through a valley shrouded in fog, Samir adjusted the route to improve visibility.

Travnik Tree

For years Travnik was known as the Vizier City and “capital of the Eyalet of Bosnia”. In the Ottoman Empire the powerful Grand Vizier was the Sultan’s prime minister.

Vlašić Mountain – Feel Bosnia

Ethnic Cleansing

Lašva Valley is the area where horrible ethnic cleansing crimes occurred during the Bosnian War 1992-1995. Although Samir was a child then, he told us about the torture and imprisonment of his father and grandfather who witnessed the horrific murder of most people in their village. They both survived.

Samir and Kathryn Travnik Medieval Fortress

On a lighter note, Travnik is the best preserved city from Ottoman times. It has protected cultural and historical buildings and is the birth place of Yugoslav novelist, poet, and short story writer Ivo Andrić. Andrić won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. His Bosnian Trilogy includes – The Woman from Sarajevo, Bosnian Chronicle, and The Bridge on the Drina. Later a collection of his short stories Tales of Sarajevo was published. They present a “comprehensive picture of Sarajevo during the turbulence in 1878, social turmoil of 1906, and WW II violence and destruction 1939-1945“.

View Restaurant – Konoba Plava Voda Travnik


“Ivo Andric’s masterwork is imbued with the richness and complexity of a region that has brought so much tragedy to our century and known so little peace.”


Travnik Sulejmanija Mosque

Along the way we passed mountains, valleys, farms, rivers, and traditional Bosnian houses. Many of them were damaged or abandoned.

Travnik from Medieval Fortress

Plava Voda River

Travnik is known for its small river Plava Voda (blue water). The source runs right through the center of town. We ate uštipci – a doughnut-like pastry – and sampled Travnik or Vlašićki cheese made in the nearby mountains. On the way back to Sarajevo we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of traditional Bosnian food at Konoba Plava Voda, a riverside restaurant.

Najbrži Uštipci

Travnik (Vlašićki) Cheese – Turisttotal

Stari Grad Medieval Fortress

Stari Grad Fortress is Travnik’s most significant historical landmark. We climbed to the top marveling at views of the valley and villages from the 15th century Ottoman period. Some historic buildings in the fortress include Sulejmanija Mosque, Our Lady Vrilo Jesuit grammar school, and Elči Ibrahim-Pasha madrassa which is still used today. There are two 18th century clock towers and a sundial.


After Travnik we continued to Jajce, the capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia – a medieval “city of stone, light, and water”. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site candidate. The fortress, castle, and open air museum are on the banks of the brisk Pliva and Vrbas Rivers – a significant source of hydropower in the area.

Jajce Fortress –

Waterfall, Fortress, Catacombs

Jajce Waterfall appears at the point where the “Pliva River tumbles abruptly into the Vrbas”. The formidable waterfall dominates Jajce Old Town.

Jajce Pliva Waterfall


“In one glance, Jajce Fortress “captures the architecture of four empires – Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, three kingdoms – Bosnian, Hungarian, Yugoslav, and three world monotheistic religions – Christianity (Orthodoxy and Catholicism), Islam, Judaism.”


Pliva Lakes – Come Enjoy Bosnia

During the 14th century, a Bosnian duke built catacombs in the fortress as a “last residence” for his family. In 1943 Josip Broz Tito hid there. During 1945, the conference establishing the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was held in the catacombs. The Commission for the Protection of National Monuments of Bosnia-Herzegovina registered the catacombs as a national monument in 2003.

Jajce Catacombs – Bosnia-Herzegovina

Traditional Bosnian Architecture – Alterural

Pliva Lakes and Watermills

Pliva Lakes and Watermills are near Jajce. They’re a popular picnic spot and great for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, volleyball, biking, and hiking. During the Middle Ages the watermills provided power for grinding seeds and grain to produce flour. In 2009 they were declared National Monuments of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Church of St. Mary or the Sultan Suleyman II Mosque

Another important national monument is the Church of St. Mary or the Sultan Suleyman II Mosque, considered Jajce’s “symbol of coexistence”. It burned in the mid-19th century. Today only the stone walls remain.

Symbol of Coexistence Church of St. Mary or the Sultan Suleyman II Mosque – Sarajevo Times

Throughout history it was used as both church and mosque. There are “visible reminders of different religions within the church”. The Bell Tower of St. Luke is on the northeast side of the church walls. It represents the “only surviving medieval bell tower in the continental Balkans”. In 1892, the Austro-Hungarian government declared the church and bell tower cultural heritage icons.

Jajce Historical St. Mary Church Ruins and St. Luke Bell Tower

At the end of the day we drove back to Sarajevo reflecting on the history and nature of Travnik and Jajce. I’m still processing the outing. Of course the longer you remain in a country the better you understand and appreciate its history and culture. I plan to stay in Sarajevo until early March.

Bosnian Chronicle Ivo Andric

The Bridge on the Drina Ivo Andric

The Woman from Sarajevo Ivo Andric

Last night I attended a Sarajevo Philharmonic concert at the National Theater. It was a fantastic experience!

Plava Voda Travnik – ahlanbosna


“Underneath us in the purple dusk old Sarajevo is sinking more and more, with its buildings of all time and styles, its churches – old and new – synagogues and mosques along which apple trees grow, lean and tall as a minaret… But the veil of dusk, who lives all the more denser, all the more equals them and merges into the unreading story of a common night, which now covers the history, legends, and accomplishments of foreign invaders and domestic small and great tyrants and oligarchies, the movements of the masses, long and complicated accounts and accounts between those who have and not are given by those who have nothing to their needs.”  Ivo Andric


Sarajevo Walking Tour

Latin Bridge Near Assassination of Franz Ferdinand 1914

I’ve been exploring Sarajevo but decided to join a guided walking tour today. We walked several hours mostly covering territory in Old Town. Several Bosnians started the tour group – Meet Bosnia – a few years ago. They’re clearly passionate about their city. The tour was rich in history and stories.

The Meet Bosnia office in Old Town is at the corner of Gazi Husrev-Begova and Mula Mustafa Baseskija Streets. With its jewelry shops, Gazi Husrev-Begova is also known as Zlatarska – Goldsmith’s Street. Mula Mustafa Baseskija is near the Eternal Fire, a monument to Sarajevo’s liberation in World War II.

Austro-Hungarian Architecture

Baščaršija  Square – Churches, Fountains, Mosques, Towers

The tour started at Baščaršija Square, the “lively core of Old Town” and home to Sarajevo’s oldest streets and most notable landmarks. Except for churches and temples next to mosques, the area is like a scene from Istanbul. We walked by the Old Orthodox Church dedicated to Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Built in the 16th century, it suffered from fires and destruction, but was repeatedly reconstructed.

Sarajevo Post Office – Destination Sarajevo

Old Town Wall Sarajevo

We paused at Sebilj, a famous wooden fountain on Baščaršija Square. According to local legend, if you drink water from the fountain you’ll come back to Sarajevo.

Bezistan Bazaar – Muzel Sarajevo

Gazi Husrev-Bey Mosque – National Geographic Your Shot

We passed Gazi Husrev-Bey Mosque, a beautiful building from the 1500s considered Sarajevo’s “most important architectural monument from Ottoman rule”.  We walked through the Bezistan, Sarajevo’s oldest shopping area. It’s near the 16th century Clock Tower which has an unusual clock that keeps lunar time. The clock indicates the five times for daily Islam prayer – dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night. With the lunar system, “the day begins at sunset and the time shown is 12:00”.

Šeher-Ćehaja Bridge Sarajevo

Old Orthodox Church Sarajevo

Sarajevo City Hall

The group admired beautiful Sarajevo City Hall (Vijećnica), the most recognizable Austro-Hungarian building in Bosnia. It was the National and University Library and seat of Sarajevo’s city council. Now it’s a venue for major exhibitions and concerts.

Isa Begov Hamam Hotel – Sarajevo Construction

Isa Begov Hamam

We passed Isa Beg Hamam, one of two hammams in Sarajevo. The hammam is named after Isa Beg Ishakovich, a successful Ottoman General and the Beg (Governor) of Bosnia Sandzak. Ishakovich is known as the founder of Sarajevo.

Isa Begov Hamam – Cicelićka Portal

I’ve enjoyed a few invigorating Turkish hamams. Visiting Isa Beg’s Hamam is on my list of things to do before leaving Sarajevo. I’ve never felt so clean, relaxed, and refreshed as after the hamam process! This blog post explains the experience.

Sebilj Baščaršija Sarajevo


“The main idea in the Hamam is to use steam and hot water to cleanse the body and create a sensual relaxing.”


Rebuilt Sarajevo City Hall


Our guide highlighted Sarajevo’s exceptional diversity and the mutual respect among Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, and Islam religions. Sarajevo’s Jewish community has existed for almost five centuries. The Old Jewish Temple is within walking distance of churches and mosques. Today it’s a Balkan museum.

Tombs Governors Gazi Murat and Gazi Husref

Old Jewish Temple Sarajevo

Meeting of Cultures and Roses

We stopped at the “Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures” point on Ferhadija Street – a  location tied to the Habsburg MonarchyThe Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart with a statue of Pope John Paul II is one of many iconic buildings on Ferhadija. Toward the eastern end there’s a marker showing the spot where “East meets West”.

Bosnian Copper Coffee Set

Our guide talked about Sarajevo Roses, “craters left by fatal mortar strikes that were filled with red resin to remember those lost during the Siege of Sarajevo”.

Ćevapi – Hostel Franz Ferdinand

Bosnian Food

The group listened to pointers on restaurants, cafés, and the best places for local cuisine like ćevapi and burek. Coffee is a very important part of Bosnian culture. Drinking their special strong brew – never to be mistaken for Turkish coffee – is a must. As you drink the coffee you must linger and enjoy the time with your companions.

Burek – Destination Sarajevo

Baklava Dućan Sarajevo

Latin Bridge and Ferdinand’s Assassination Site

We walked over famous Latin Bridge and stopped at the sight of Franz-Ferdinand˙s Assassination. The story of the nearly botched assassination is fascinating.

Sarajevo Roses

It was a beautiful clear day with temperatures in the high 40s. I’m smitten with Bosnia. Since the weather forecast is good, I’ll take full-day tours tomorrow and Wednesday:

Sarajevo Ottoman White Fortress