How to make perfect Serbian style coffee

Serbs love their coffee.   In fact, this is often the first thing we will have as we wake up, even before breakfast. Domaća kafa, or “domestic style coffee” which is sometimes also called Turska kafa (clearly a remnant from former Ottoman rule) is usually served and it can be the perfect alternative to a long black (or Americano) because it has a different taste to Italian style ( using a Macchinetta) or machine made.

I remember when my Serbian husband first visited me at my apartment. On his first visit, he offered to make Serbian style coffee for the both of us.   Was he trying to impress me or too polite to tell me that my style wasn’t his?  Either way, it didn’t matter.   I had a dzezva which my mum gave me when I first moved out (and which was at the back of my cupboard) and I watched in awe as he made me the most perfect Domaća kafa  I had ever tried!   No exaggeration. He had me at “hello, caffeine”! Here is how he made it and how I now make it to this day.

What you need for perfect Serbian style coffee

  1. Best quality, finely ground Minas coffee.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not even think that the supermarket pre-packaged coffee will work, unless it’s Grand Café or Doncafe brand.
  • You should not use the pre-packaged ground beans unless they are finely grounded.   And when I say fine, I mean powdery, not plunger or espresso style. That is too coarse.
  1. A Dzezva or stove coffee pot like the one pictured is essential.  You can find them at most European style deli’s. If you can’t then here is a place you can buy them online:   Traditional copper style dzezva or Stainless steel style dzezva 
  1. Water
Turkish coffee dzezva Serbian coffee

Photo credit: Terekhova via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

How to make it

  1. Measure out how many cups  you plan to make. This is usually done using a rough guide of 1 coffee cup (not mug) per person.   I usually will use a 3 cup method when it’s my husband and I, and the third cup is for extra.
  2. Put the water into the dzezva and on the stove top to boil.
  3. Once it boils, take off the dzezva off the heat.   Add a heaped teaspoon of finely ground Minas coffee to the hot water, for every cup. In my example, I would add 3 heaped (and I mean heaped) teaspoons as I like it strong.
  4. Give this a quick stir to mix it into the water, and it if it is good quality, fresh coffee it will already start to form coffee foam or crema after you stir the coffee in. Don’t over do the stirring – just enough to mix in the coffee without lumps. If you don’t have crema, then you haven’t put enough coffee in for the amount of water or the coffee is stale.
  5. Put back the dzezva on a medium heat – not too low, or it will overcook.  Not to high or it will overflow and burn.   So, don’t move away from the stove at this critical time.   Very soon, you will see the coffee and the crema start to rise.  Once that starts to happen,  take it immediately off the heat.  One more stir and you’re done!
  6. Let it sit for a minute and pour into cups. I always like to take off the crema with a spoon and give each cup it’s equal share before pouring the coffee but however you wish.

This is how your crema should look like :


Photo credit: urbanmkr via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

You may like it stronger, weaker…you’ll work it out. But the most important thing is that it should never taste overly bitter or burnt.

Extra tips

  • When serving guests, it’s expected that you bring the coffee cups out together, at the same time, on a serving tray rather than what you can hold.
  • You can serve with biscuits or ratluk (Turkish delight), and cubes of sugar on the side. Serbs generally prefer sugar cubes over granulated sugar.
  • Don’t forget to serve your guests their Domaća kafa in a beautiful cup and saucer set, the best you can afford.   Drinking coffee is done as a sit down ritual, not a take away or casual experience, so mugs are usually not used nor are paper cups.
  • No milk or cream is served with Domaća kafa.   It is drunk traditionally black.
  • You can also serve your Domaća kafa an offer of a glass of mineral water or plain water.


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Featured image photo credit: WordRidden via Visual hunt / CC BY

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