Lest you think that Balkan Caffeination is simply another jolly around the cafes of the Balkans with reviews of the latest happenings in Balkan barista-land, let us quickly disabuse you of that idea.
From the earliest days of the coffee house, whether in city, town or village settings, it was all about story telling. About the exchange of ideas, gossip, prejudices, beliefs. From simple banter to heated political argument. From localized comedic occurrences to regional tragedies of war. Story telling. Over the common denominators of coffee and, most likely in the Balkans, cigarettes.
Above all coffee houses were and are about the story tellers.
Shopkeepers and farmers. Bakers. teachers and mechanics. Poets and politicians. Doctors, lawyers and housewives. Truck drivers, musicians and people out of work. Soldiers and ex-soldiers.
These story tellers and their stories are the primary objective of Balkan Caffeination. Through their stories, our photographs and interviews, we want to give you a glimpse of life – past, present and future – in the Balkans.
No, we won’t ignore the coffee itself, the cafes and coffee houses, their owners and staff and trappings. They have stories to tell too.
If we were to choose one word to describe our intentions for this project it would be the word documentary.
We will try live up to its definition and precepts.
One of the most original cafés in Sarajevo (if not the world) is the famed Zlatna Ribica, or the Goldfish. Parisian brasserie, meets Viennese coffee house, meets London Curiosity Shop. Inside you’ll find gilt mirrors, leather sofas, velvet armchairs and feel as if you just step into a junk shop full of all imaginable kinds of curiosities. As you sit enjoying your coffee, you’ll listen to music that seamlessly changes from Edith Piaf to Hank Williams to Luciano Pavarotti. It’s a feast for the eyes, ears and tongue. And don’t forget the toilets, which are almost more bizarre than the main room.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2016
Photograph by Paul Kelly
What is Balkan Caffeination?
Our mission is to explore why coffee and cafés are central to the Balkan way of life.