Kosovo is a coffee culture. It is amazing. I did not know when I signed up for the Peace Corps that I would be moving to a coffee-lover’s paradise.
Fellow coffee-drinkers: Get ready to become thoroughly jealous and prepare your bank-account, because you just might be buying a plane ticket to Kosovo at the end of this post.
Not a coffee person? Well there’s hope for you. Kosovo is also big on tea, so let’s start there:
The most popular tea in Kosovo is a type of black tea known here as Russian tea or chai rusi. It was actually brought to the region during Ottoman rule and therefore it is more widely known as Turkish tea.
This tea is served with lots of sugar in small narrow-waisted glasses from a double-stacked kettle. It is typical to be offered tea in the evening after dinner or when you visit someone’s home. As a female volunteer, you may be expected to serve the tea for guests. I felt like a nervous Mulan the first time I had to serve tea in Kosovo!
Even though the glasses are small, be careful, because your glass will be continuously refilled. Before you know it you’ve had 6 or 7 glasses of black tea with tons of sugar. Good luck sleeping.
Although Russian tea is delicious, I try to drink mint or chamomile to cut down on the caffeine or sugar. I probably drink three cups of tea per day, which may be on the lower end of the scale compared to many volunteers.
Now it’s time to take a little journey through the main types of coffee people drink in Kosovo:
Let’s start with the simplest one of the group, which is instant coffee or Nescafe. I remember being surprised by how popular instant coffee was when I traveled to Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan. Turns out it is pretty popular in the Balkans as well. Every cafe or restaurant has it on the menu and most people drink it in their homes.
I’ve never been a fan of instant coffee, but lately I’ve been craving American coffee, and this is about as close as it comes. I also miss filling a big thermos with coffee to bring to work.
One downside to coffee-culture in Kosovo is that to-go cups don’t exist. In America coffee is prepared in a hurry and guzzled on-the-go to provide an energy boost for our hectic lifestyles. In Kosovo coffee is primarily a social binder. Drinking coffee alone or on-the-go contradicts its purpose.
Kosovo is such a coffee culture that many people go out to a cafe daily, sitting and visiting with friends, family, or coworkers for hours. Visiting over coffee is seen as an essential part of daily life. It is a lifestyle I think many Americans could learn from.
People in Kosovo adore Turkish coffee and most drink it daily. The above proverb perfectly defines Turkish coffee. It is like coffee in the form of a shot. It is small, potent, and typically saturated with sugar.
Kosovars love their sugar when it comes to coffee and tea. Because it rare to drink coffee without sugar, I often get strange looks when I ask for my Turkish coffee that way. On more than one occasion the hostess serving the coffee has insisted on putting at least one spoonful of sugar in my cup because it’s just not natural to drink coffee without sugar!
In terms of quantity, I probably drink about three Turkish coffees per day. One in the morning, one at school with all of the teachers, and one in the evening with my family. I think my coffee intake has been one of the primary things I’d attribute to my success as a Peace Corps Volunteer.