Brief history of coffee drinking in Dubrovnik
For centuries, taverns and cafés where the heart of the action where locals gathered to share news, gossip, laughter, and good times. It’s a timeless tradition that still holds true today in many European cities, and Dubrovnik is no exception.
In fact, the historic role of taverns and cafés in Dubrovnik’s daily life is so well-documented that you can read about it in several history books. These lively hubs were a perfect place to experience the city’s culture, and where people from all walks of life came together over coffee and conversation. From the 1800s to the present day, the cafés of Dubrovnik have witnessed the changing tides of society, the passing of generations, the city’s integration into the wider communities and growth, even a few wars. They are a place to reflect on the past, enjoy the present, and look toward the future.
The story of Dubrovnik’s connection with coffee starts in London. London’s coffee culture has a rich history, with the first café opening its doors way back in 1652. The man behind this cultural phenomenon was Pasko, a Dubrovnik native who served the successful businessman Daniel Edwards. Pasko had a talent for brewing a mean Turkish coffee to the point that Edwards would invite friends over just to enjoy this special treat. It wasn’t long before Edwards realized the potential of Pasko’s skills and decided to open a small café for him. The café, which now houses the Jamaice Wine House, was an instant hit and sparked a coffee craze that Londoners still enjoy to this day.
First coffee places opened in Dubrovnik in the 19th century and one of them was the Caffe Grande, managed by Swiss immigrants. Now imagine a quaint Dubrovnik, where cafés were in their beginnings an exclusive establishment reserved only for the elite who would frequent these small, intimate establishments to sip on coffee, smoke pipes, and indulge in Burmut, an aromatic powder derived from tobacco leaves, a custom originating from South America. These cafés were the perfect spot for Dubrovnik’s upper echelon to socialize and network while enjoying their favourite pastimes.
It’s clear that coffee is a staple in our lives and the love for this delicious beverage runs deep in our veins. However, the only café from the old times that still serves coffee to this day is the famous café Birmiša, now known as Kafana Dubravka. It was opened back in 1836 by Nikola Birimiša of the Birimiša family, at the Pile Gate. This café quickly became the go-to spot for locals, visitors, and army men. The atmosphere at Birimiša’s was especially lively on Sunday afternoons, where people would gather to enjoy a cup of coffee, delicious ice cream, and listen to the army music ensemble play.
The importance of coffee in Dubrovnik’s culture today
Coffee in Dubrovnik is not just a beverage; it’s a way of life and a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and affection. Offering a cup of coffee to guests is a cherished tradition, and it is a sign of respect and a way to show that they are welcome. The locals believe that coffee should be savoured slowly, and it is always served with a side of conversation.
Coffee shops in Dubrovnik are not just places to grab a quick caffeine fix. Instead, they offer a cosy and welcoming atmosphere where people can sit and enjoy their coffee, often accompanied by a pastry or a biscuit. The coffee culture in Dubrovnik is about taking a break from a busy day, catching up with friends, and enjoying the experience.
In Dubrovnik, coffee is not rushed; it’s an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the moment. It’s a tradition that has stood the test of time and continues to be an essential part of Dubrovnik’s culture today.
The home-made Turkish coffee also called Ukuhana Kafa
Dubrovnik has a special name for coffee, and it’s called “kafa.” This city has been brewing coffee for generations, and the tradition has been shaped by many cultures. Crafting the perfect cup of Dubrovnik coffee requires a keen eye for detail and a little bit of patience. So, how is it made? The process starts with heating water in a metal pot called Džezva. Once the water comes to a boil, a few spoons of sugar (optional) are added, and the mixture is removed from the fire. Twice as much coffee is then added to the pot, and the mixture is brought back to boil. It’s important to keep an eye on the mixture to ensure it doesn’t spill over. Finally, the coffee is poured into cups and served with milk or without, depending on preference.
How to order coffee in Dubrovnik
As coffee lovers, we all have our preferred way of enjoying our caffeine fix. However, when visiting a café, it’s important to be aware of the different options available. While Turkish coffee may be our go-to at home, when venturing out to a pub or bar, we’re likely to order different styles of coffee.
One of the most common coffee styles you’ll come across is white coffee. This is an espresso shot served in a larger cup with a generous amount of milk added, but be sure to specify whether you prefer your milk hot or cold. Another popular option is coffee with milk, which is simply an espresso shot with a small amount of milk added served in a small espresso cup.
If you’re looking for a coffee with a little more milk foam, try a cappuccino, which is similar to white coffee but with more foam than milk also served in a larger cup. For a stronger espresso flavour, go for a macchiato, which is a shot of espresso with a small amount of milk foam on top served in a small cup.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for something cold, try an iced coffee. However, be aware that different cafes may serve it differently, with some adding whipped cream and ice cream, while others simply pour an espresso shot over ice. Make sure to ask about the preparation method before ordering. Most common way of serving it is in a big glass.
An extraordinary experience of drinking coffee in the Old Town
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is home to many beautiful bars and cafés. The Old Town’s narrow streets and historic buildings create a unique atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee. Whether you are sitting in a small café in a quiet alley or enjoying a cup of coffee with a view of the sea, drinking coffee in the Old Town is an experience that you will never forget.
There are many great places to visit including Gradska Kavana, Dubravka 1836 before mentioned as Birimiša, Café Festival formerly known as Manon, Caffe Bar Libertina better known as Luči, Caffe bar Fontana, Irish Pub The Gaffe, Sesame bar and restaurant bellow the Gradac Park, Taj Mahal Bosnian restaurant serving original Bosnian coffee, Coffee Bar Belfast in the Uvala Bay, Lokal Bar in One in the Župa area, Caffe Bar Betula formerly known as Talir, Hotel Porto café at Gruž, and a new kid in town the Cogito Coffee shop. There is also couple of spots at Bunićeva poljana which is a popular gathering place for locals. And if you’re in a rush, grab a cup of coffee to go at KAWA. All these places offer a unique atmosphere and serve some of the best coffee in the city.
If you are planning to visit Dubrovnik, don’t forget to experience the city’s coffee culture. Try some traditional Dubrovnik coffee (just ask for “ukuhana kafa” in the bar) and enjoy in the city’s coffee-drinking lifestyle.