Blend in by Getting your Croatian Coffee Terminology Right


Getting serious about coffee is an over growing trend globally and an although international café chains are constantly inventing new blends and the Nordic nations top the list on coffee coffee consumption, there is something fascinating about the Mediterranean coffee ritual. Croatians are obsessed about their daily ritual of sipping on coffee in a café; although you may discover they are more drawn to the social aspect of it than the quality of the coffee itself. In other words, Croatia has a rich coffee drinking culture…. but they are not overly fussed about the quality of what they drink, although they have completely renamed their coffees and do not use the globally recognized espresso, café latte type terminology.

640px-Outdoor_dining_at_Split's_Riva

Outdoor dining at Split’s Riva (Wikimedia)

Il Culto del Caffè, the Italian café culture, is a completely different cup of coffee (no pun intended) from that of Croatia. In Italy, coffee is a drug, taken much like a pill over the counter…. a quick hit of espresso, standing. In Croatia, coffee must be consumed slowly, very slowly, never alone, with good company, sitting in a café, preferably with a view. When you ask a friend to meet up, both Italians and Croatians will say, “Let’s go for coffee,” or “Ajmo na kavu” in Croatian.

Although recent trends have made Macchiato the to-drink coffee at the moment, you’ll ALWAYS needs to specify whether you want it made with hot or cold and no one, we mean NO ONE orders double shots….so when you visit a Croatian café, get your terminology right so you know what you are getting. Interestingly though, Croatians swear by a different type of coffee at home; Turkish coffee, something no longer available in cafes.
Coffe Beans
Here is a survival guide to the 10 most common coffee orders.

  • Bijela Kava = Caffe Latte

Similar to Café au lait or Caffe Latte is a Bijela Kava in Croatia, meaning “white coffee”, usually served in a mug.

  • Kava s mlijekom = Flat White

This less foamy version of a cappuccino simply translates into “coffee with milk.” The size you order, big or small (velika or mala) refers to the extra addition of milk, not coffee.

Here are the variations of kava s mlijekom:

  • Mala kava s hladnom mlijekom = A small flat white with cold milk
  • Mala kava s toplim mlijekom = A small flat white with hot milk
  • Velika kava s hladnom mlijekom =A large flat white with cold milk
  • Velika kava s toplim mlijekom = A large flat white with hot milk
  • Kratka kava s kap mlijeka = Ristretto Macchiato 

Directly translates into “short coffee with a drop of milk,” this is a concentrated espresso with just a spoonful of milk.

Available as “…s kap hladnog mlijeka (with a spoonful of cold milk), and “…s kap toplog mlijeka” (with a spoonful of warm milk).

  • Obična kava = Espresso

Obična kava literally means “normal coffee” which is just a regular shot of espresso… but then  what’s and abnormal coffee?

  • Produžena Kava = Long Black, a.k.a. Americano

Translated into “prolonged coffee;” this watered down coffee is very rarely drunk by Croatians.

  • Kava s šlagom = Espresso con Panna

This is a coffee with whipped cream but it doesn’t refer to what most refer to as regular whipped cream. It is an espresso shot topped with a frozen cream from a local brand called Ledo…. similar to ice cream really.

  • Kava Mix = Vienna Coffee

This is the newest coffee fad to hit Croatia. A Croatian version of a Vienna coffee is composed of an espresso shot with both milk and the local frozen whipped cream. Calorie bomb for sure.

Now you should be set so you can blend in with local life in Croatia’s countless cafes found in virtually all buildings and squares. Which coffee are you going to order in Croatia? Let us know in the comment section.

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