‘Idemo na kavu’ – Coffee culture in Croatia

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It is 7.30am on my first day of holiday in Trogir. I walk to the market, where my regular bakery is to buy tasty fresh bread for breakfast. The streets are already crowded. Not with tourists, no, you don't see them in town at this time of day. It is busy with locals starting their day early. They are shopping, on their way to work or they are settling down on the terrace at a coffee shop. I can hear you thinking: 'A coffee bar, at 7.30am?' That's what I personally love about this habit, the terraces are already full, Trogir has woken up. Arriving at the market, I feel I'm there again. I am home.

‘Idemo na kavu’ means more than drinking coffee

Drinking coffee together in a coffee bar, that’s what ‘idemo na kavu’ means. Croats love coffee. An average Croat drinks more than 5 kilos of coffee a year and spends around 182 hours drinking it. That explains the packed terraces. But, ‘idemo na kavu’ means more than coffee drinking. It is an invitation to socialise. Getting together with friends, a work date with a colleague or catching up with the neighbour who happens to walk by. It’s a way of life. There are even unwritten rules that come with Croatian coffee culture. Want to feel like a local during your holiday in Croatia? We are happy to share the most important do’s and dont’s with you!

✓ To start with, you drink your coffee slowly. The conversation comes first, the coffee comes second. Fast-forward and move on? That’s not an option, take your time. You won’t easily find takeaway coffee in Croatia’s coastal towns. Which makes sense, considering that socialising is the goal.

✓ The one who makes the invitation pays. Next time, the other person pays. This happens naturally, no one keeps track of who is ‘taking their turn’.

✓ For a coffee, you pay no more than 2.50 euros. In the tourist spots you pay double, but you won’t meet a Croatian there.

✓ ‘Drinking coffee’ does not literally mean ‘drinking coffee’. You can also order something else, socialising is the most important thing.

✓ To your coffee you only add sugar and milk, flavoured syrup is unacceptable. Don’t worry, if the weather is hot, a ledena kava (iced coffee) is allowed.

✓ Due to the coffee culture, indoor smoking is still allowed in Croatia. Do you smoke? Then you are not obliged to get a place on the terrace, you can also sit inside.

✓ If you run out of coffee, don’t feel rushed to checkout and leave. Relax, you can sit as long as you like. The waiter understands this too and won’t walk by every 10 minutes to ask you if you want another drink.

✓ Did you know that coffee is even the best gift to bring when you are invited to someone’s house? Franck Jubilarna kava is traditionally the best choice.

After breakfast, it’s time for my coffee. My sister and I settle down at our favourite coffee bar in Trogir and order a bijela kava (latte). We both know we will be here for a while and in no time the waiter is next to us with the coffee. I get an appropriate quote on my sugar bag, it’s as if he can read my mind: ‘Ništa mi neće ovi dan pokvarit! (There is nothing more that can ruin my day!).