Kristina assembles what she needs: chocolate, an apple, thermos of good Serbian coffee, two cups and several thin candles. She’s off to visit with her uncle and we’re going along.
Thing is her uncle has been dead for over 20 years.
But Serbians have a tradition that demonstrates the importance of coffee in their culture. Particularly, but not necessarily exclusively, on special days for example the deceased’s birthday or wedding anniversary, a relative will visit the grave to share a cup of coffee.
Candles are lit, a few of the deceased’s favourite things – in this case chocolate and an apple – are placed. Coffee is poured into two cups. One cup is placed near the headstone. Kristina now sips her coffee and carries on a silent conversation with her uncle.
It was utterly simple and touching. And it felt somehow Serbian.
Words and images by Fred Shively and Paul Kelly, the Balkan Caffeinators.
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Our mission is to explore why coffee and cafés are central to the Balkan way of life.