“Ćejf would roughly translate into something of leisure, something of pleasure, something that you do for the feel of it, for…the inherited will and need for something….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.” Senida Husić
Ćejf is an important notion in Bosnian culture and it is difficult to translate into English. When people talk about ćejf, they describe it as a pleasure, as enjoyment, as a way to connect to the deeper parts of oneself. Ćejf is passing the time with a cup of fresh coffee, slowly rolling a cigarette, or any activity that brings pleasure to one’s life. There’s a mindfulness and intentionality to ćejf, and it can be enacted with friends and family or by oneself.
“Coffee is more of a tradition of spending time with your friends and family. It’s like a pastime, a leisure time. It really is…it’s got so much more meaning.” Senida Husić
Enjoying Bosnian coffee, or bosanska kafa, is a tradition that is iconically ćejf. The tradition of preparing coffee is an important rite of passage, particularly for young women. Bosnians will often take an hour or more to drink coffee, experiencing ćejf in the process.
Making Bosnian Coffee
“Making Bosnian coffee is something that you have to learn and…it’s an acquired skill…it’s almost an apprenticeship that your your mom or your parents put you through.” Senida Husić
Learning to prepare coffee is an important rite of passage, particularly for young women. Distinct from though similar to Turkish coffee, Bosnian coffee is brewed in a specific way, without the use of a filter. Traditionally, families roasted their own beans and ground them into a fine powder using a specific type of grinder; however, ground coffee is typically purchased today.
Listen to Senida Husić talk about roasting coffee beans in Bosnia in an interview with Kate Horigan:
Click here for the transcription of this audio clip.
Here’s how one family brews Bosnian coffee:
- Boil water in a pot or kettle.
- While your water is boiling, prepare your džezva (coffee pot) by making sure it’s dry. Add ground coffee to the džezva.
- Pour your boiling water over the grounds.
- Keep the džezva on the stove until you see a giant bubble start to foam from the bottom. Called pena, this foam is rich and thick. Be careful not to let the foam boil over.
- Once all the foam is to the top, remove the džezva from the heat.
- Serve coffee right away by pouring it into the fildžan (coffee cup). Be sure not to let the foam begin to disintegrate. Some people spoon a little of the foam into each cup before pouring the coffee.
- Enjoy black, or serve with milk and sugar. Coffee is often paired with Turkish delight (a sugar confection know as rahat lokum) or other sweets.
Listen to Senida Husić talk about the presentation and serving of Bosnian coffee in an interview with Virginia Siegel:
Click here for the transcription to this audio file.