Croats and Their Special Love for Coffee
Since I am originally from Dubrovnik, Croatia, I wanted to explain a little bit about the culture of drinking coffee almost every day for HOURS!
Last year I was completing my third year of college as a study abroad student at the RIT Zagreb campus. I am very grateful that I got a chance to go back to my home country to study and experience all the special rituals that Croatia is known for.
Drinking coffee is a daily ritual for most Croats. It perfectly reflects our tendency to take life at a slower pace, which means there is always time for a cup of pleasure. Even on a weekday, the tables are crowded with people chatting while drinking their favorite caffeinated beverage. Although it is an unusual sight for foreigners, the full cafes across the country prove how important a coffee shop is in Croatian everyday life.
Coffee to go? No, thank you. While it is normal to take your coffee to go in many foreign countries, Croats prefer to dedicate some time to our coffee while enjoying someone's company. That’s why the phrase "let's go for coffee" is so often heard in Croatian conversations. However, such an invitation to socialize may include other drinks and can sometimes end with a couple of beers. Our coffee is not like coffee from Starbucks. In fact, Starbucks doesn’t exist in Croatia at all. Our coffee is never taken to go and is always served in small espresso or cappuccino cups. Drinking coffee is intended for enjoyment and not for rushing.
Whatever you drink, going for coffee is always a good occasion for an hour or two of talking to a loved one you haven't had a chance to see in a long time or to just rest your brain from work, school, college, etc. The peak of this ritual is during sunny days when coffee lovers across the country put on sunglasses and rush to the terraces of cafe bars. When we visit someone's home, there are typically Croatian habits that we unconsciously follow: we ask if we should take off our shoes, refuse food when the host offers it (and eat it deliciously when it is still served), and give coffee as a small symbol of appreciation. This ritual of gifting coffee is acceptable in various situations - it could be a visit to an aunt, meeting our partner’s parents, or a small token of gratitude for the service done. Packing fine aromatic beans is always a great idea because people can never have too much coffee in their kitchen! I love having coffee with my hometown friends when it feels like time and distance can't harm us and all life's problems quickly become material for laughter and humor. Café bars are very important to Croats, and it was difficult when cafés had to temporarily close due to the COVID pandemic. It was a national celebration when the government announced that the COVID situation was getting better and café bars would open their doors again.
I hope that with this short blog, I managed to bring you closer to the coffee culture in Croatia and explain the love of a Croat and our coffee.
Paulina Hudspeth is a 3rd year Supply Chain Management major in the Saunders College of Business. She spent two years studying at the RIT Croatia Zagreb campus.