What’s the difference between Turkish coffee and Bosnian coffee?

Short answer: Sugar is added later when making Bosnian coffee.

“We [Bosnians] serve [our coffee] without sugar in the coffee pot.. because we have a less bitter life than Turkish people.”

Bosnian guide

I had some delicious Bosnian food for lunch today! We tried a combination plate with ćevapi (kebab-like minced meat), pljeskavica (spiced meat patty), chicken kebabs, sausages, lepinja (flatbread), and ajvar (relish), as well as a gulaš (goulash). Not quite Bosnian, but they also had a lovely rose hip soda from Slovenia! Unfortunately I didn’t get a nice photo of the combination plate (so that’s an image from Yelp), but the other two are actually from today…

They also had some interesting decorations. One was an advertisement for a free concert by Bijelo Dugme (White Button), the most popular rock band ever from Yugoslavia. This concert was a comeback attempt by the band, and the last performance before the lead guitarist’s (Bregovic) army duty. Between 70,000-100,000 people showed up to Kosutnjak in Belgrade, and it is considered a seminal event in Yugoslav rock. Another was a little placard about the Sebilj in Sarajevo, an Ottoman-style fountain in Bascarsija Square (Sarajevo’s old bazaar). According to local legend, visitors who drink water from this fountain will return to Sarajevo. No doubt the restaurant wishes a similar effect from the poster…

The owner of the restaurant noticed I was taking some photos of the poster and came by to show us a can of Coke. He proudly told us that the can was an original Coca-Cola from the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984! Amazingly, the can still contained some liquid after 37 years, although it was quite soft (probably from loss of carbonation and direct corrosive effect of phosphoric acid).

After lunch, we went to the attached Bosnian market. While shopping, I made a major mistake asking if they had “Turkish coffee.” The owner was appropriately insulted but did patiently direct us to the Bosnian coffee. We ended up getting 4 bags (as gifts), so the encounter ended with all smiles and some free Bananko (a Croatian candy of chocolate-covered banana foam). This did have me wondering what the difference between Turkish and Bosnian coffee was though.

Bosnian coffee grounds. Source: my own phot

Turkish and Bosnian coffee are both strong, unfiltered, and prepared with the same grounds. The preparation begins by boiling cold water in a copper pot (known variously as a dzezve, cezve, or ibrik). Turks add sugar to their water, while Bosnians do not. Once the water comes to a boil, coffee grounds are then added. This causes the characteristic foaming of Bosnian/Turkish coffee. Some additional hot water can be used to help sink the grounds. Alternatively, the foam may be stirred down with a spoon and the mixture slowly heated again to generate more foam. Bosnian and Turkish coffee are both served with a glass of water. Bosnian coffee will additionally be served with sugar cubes and rahat lokum (sweet jelly cubes coated in sugar).

How Bosnian Coffee Is Different from Turkish Coffee | MyRecipes
Bosnian coffee. Source

Bosnian coffee should first be poured out from the dzezve, then a little foam spooned on top. The drinker can then take a small nibble of a sugar cube then drink some coffee to let the two mix together in one’s mouth. This contrasts with Turkish coffee, which has already been sweetened during the preparation. In addition, in Bosnia, the dzezve is brought to the table; whereas Turkish coffee is served in a single cup. As for the taste – the two honestly are pretty similar…one BBC article notes “Bosnian coffee tasted indistinguishable from its Turkish counterpart, which is to say it was potent, bitter and as thick as mud.”

Bekrija si cijelo selo viče (The bohemian is shouting at the whole village) by Bijelmo Dugme. From the album Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu (What Would You Give to Be in My Place).

Note: I don’t really (yet) understand the proper use of diacritical marks for Slavic languages, so sorry for missing a bunch of these!


  1. https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20140707-the-complicated-culture-of-bosnian-coffee
  2. https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/how-bosnian-coffee-is-different-from-turkish-coffee
  3. https://cookingtoentertain.com/bosnian-coffee/
  4. https://meanderbug.com/art-bosnian-coffee/
  5. https://driftaway.coffee/a-brewing-guide-for-turkish-coffee/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bijelo_Dugme
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebilj_in_Sarajevo
  8. https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-Coke-last-in-the-can-How-long-in-the-bottle
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