Bosnian Coffee | Cejf

[Virginia Siegel & Senida Husić]

Virginia Siegel: “Absolutely. Um, so I guess let’s just start, tell me about Bosnian coffee.”

Senida Husić: “So um, Bosnian coffee has a very unique story and I guess tradition and culture behind it. Um, I think what, you know, well we’ve talked about this before, but what people in the States and maybe just the Western part of the world are used to as just coffee is kind of their um, you know, their wake up in the morning, um they are getting energized um, you know? Not letting them fall asleep at night, like kids do coffee all night to pull all-nighters and all of that stuff, but for Bosnian people, really coffee has a totally different meaning. Um, coffee is more of um a tradition of uh spending time with your friends and family. Um, it’s like a, uh, uh, a pastime, a leisure time. It really is, it, it’s got so much more meaning, and I know, again, we talked about it, but there’s the, the, the notion of cejf in Bosnia, in Bosnian culture and, and Bosnian language, and cejf would roughly translate into um something of leisure, something of uh pleasure, something that you do for the feel of it, for, for the um, I guess the, the inherited will and need for something. It’s like you need to have this time with your family, you know? To talk over whatever, or even if it’s just, you know, for yourself if you’re doing it for yourself, but it’s you’re relaxing, you’re you’re enjoying it. It’s like you do something because you enjoy it and it makes you feel good, and that’s essentially what coffee is for Bosnian people. Um, and, and you know, it just depends, again it ranges from different groups to where you go in the country, but it is really something that as soon as you walk into somebody’s house there is a pot of water being boiled for coffee, um, you know? And if you go over to somebody’s house for dinner it’s like you usually have coffee before dinner and then coffee after dinner. And this is really the tradition more of people in the countrysides and more in the village area, uh rural, but in the urban people also do coffee but it’s more that, that Western ideology of what coffee is for. Yeah it’s still a, you know, a, a great thing to do with your friends and your family, um but it doesn’t have that same feeling, that same cejf,  if, if that, it, it’s, it’s not the same as if you’re having it, you know, at home, you know, with your grandma and grandpa, per se, or if you’re just visiting friends and family that you’ve lived with for a long time in the villages, so. Loosely translated that’s the tradition of Bosnian coffee in Bosnia.”

VS: “And it’s the same here in Bowling Green?”

SH: “Yes, um, uh and I know for me, especially like in the morning um, you know, I have like two giant cups of coffee which uh in Bosnia like that, those are huge cups. So I’m taking like a little bit of the Western notion of coffee and I’m using their giant cups, but I’m still brewing and making this like very copious, very rich coffee taste. So I’m like overdosing in caffeine, probably going to be caffeine like resistant to all the side effects of caffeine. Um but yes, so, you know, and I do that, and again, not to wake up, because coffee doesn’t help me wake up, it doesn’t prevent me from going to bed. I know people, and maybe it’s because I’ve had so much coffee, but people say, you know, “I can’t have coffee or past such and such time because I won’t to be able to fall asleep.” I can have a cup of coffee and go back- go to bed right away. It, it, it just, you know, has- doesn’t have that effect. So I have it here for that reason, just to enjoy it, and it, it kind of gets me in this mood of being very uh, you know, being very motivated. And, and just really if I’m having a rough day at work like I, I take coffee because, you know, it’s like this is something I enjoy and it, you know, it just has like these memories and like the feelings of being happy and that be- doing that with your family, and it just kind of, you know, sometimes overshadows or smoothes over the stress and, and the worry that your work day could bring. Um, and then I also know like in our, in my circle of friends and family that’s, you know, what coffee is. We go over for coffee to enjoy each other’s company, to talk over you know what’s going on in our lives, and what we want to do, and, you know, coffee has to be, has to be there, [slight laugh] unless somebody is really like sick and then we’ll do tea. [00:04:55] Tea is like in Bosnia it’s, usually people drink tea if they’re sick and it’s mostly chamomile tea, [slight laugh] that’s like your go-to. And then what people do a lot of times is like they blend different teas and they put them together um, you know, to create like, and each tea of course has like different remedies that it’s good for, or it’s a remedy for different things, different symptoms. So, you know, they, they kind of make their own concoction of what it is that they’re trying to get rid of, or, you know, to, to soothe, so.”