The three of us, Paul, Saad and Fred and our guide Kristina, were sat in our third cafe of the morning and, consequently were just about to order our third coffee of the morning. ‘Ah, sikterusa’, says Kristina.
‘Sikterusa?’ says Saad. ‘Sikterusa,’ repeats Kristina, ‘shoo coffee. The third cup.’ She had our attention and our Balkan coffee culture education was just about to expand.
As our rich, thick and decidedly potent Serbian coffee arrived, Kristina revealed a coffee custom extended to guests arriving in a Serbian – or Bosnian - home. Invariably you will be offered coffee and the first coffee to arrive is called a docekusa which comes from the verb docekati meaning to welcome.
As your visit continues – assuming it’s a cordial visit – you’ll then be offered a second coffee, the razgovarusa which is derived from the word razgovar, conversation. Finally, comes the coffee which signals that it’s time to go. The sikterusa, the ‘goodbye’ coffee. The ‘shoo’ coffee as Kristina puts it. Nothing personal, just a neat, friendly way to wrap up.
Docekusa, razgovarusa, sikterusa. The three coffee custom. As with so many facets of coffee culture in the Balkans, we found this utterly charming.
Words and images by Fred Shively and Paul Kelly, the Balkan Caffeinators.
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