Bosnian Coffee Demonstration
By Nicole Musgrave
On the Saturday of the Bowling Green community intensive, RUX members had the opportunity to attend a Bosnian Coffee Demonstration at the Bosnian Islamic Center of Bowling Green (BIC). Sanida Palavra and Dzenana Kadric led the demonstration, walking us through the technique of making Bosnian coffee while sharing how important coffee is to Bosnian culture. As we sat down, Sanida explained that if you go to a Bosnian home and the host is taking a long time to get the coffee started upon your arrival, it can be read as a sign that the host isn't that enthused about your visit. With this in mind, Sanida joked that she needed to hurry up and start boiling the water so that we knew we were welcome.
During our visit, Sanida and Dzenana shared memories of making and drinking coffee. They both commented on how learning to make coffee is a rite of passage for many young Bosnian women. For Sanida, coffee brought up many memories of her grandparents. She remembered that as a young child, her grandparents would fill up a cup for her, mostly with milk, and then splash a couple of drops of coffee in so that Sanida felt like she was participating like one of the grown-ups.
In Bosnian culture, drinking coffee is something to be done slowly, mindfully, and with great pleasure. The notion of čejf, or doing something for the simple pleasure of it, is central to the significance of coffee in Bosnian culture. Sanida and Dzenana shared that oftentimes, coffee is an excuse to get together with friends and talk about life. They joked that in Bosnia, there aren't many therapists because drinking coffee with close friends feels like a therapy session - you talk through your woes and leave feeling lighter, with a renewed spirit.
We spent our time sipping the rich coffee, enjoying all of the sweets, and talking with Dzenana and Sanida and the BIC board members. A few of the board members gave a small tour of the mosque, sharing the story of how it got its start and of the work that they do in the community.
Many in the Bosnian community here in Bowling Green talk about how hospitality is central to Bosnian identity. While I knew this, I was still blown away by how welcoming and warm our guests were. To experience that generosity and to witness the excitement that comes with sharing one's culture with others, felt truly special.