Briki coffee, Bosnian-style

IMG_1557While Turks and Greeks might quibble (in a friendly way) over whether the traditional style of coffee they drink is called, um, Turkish or Greek, briki-style brewing is common throughout the near east, the Levant, the Balkans and north Africa.

In Bosnia the briki is called the dzezva. Hanna Coffee and Nuts in St Albans sells beautiful copper dzezva, hand-made in Sarajevo and decorated with traditional abstract engraving and embossing influenced by Bosnia’s muslim heritage.

The Bosnian method of preparing dzezva coffee is different from the Turkish and Greek, as Hanna’s Azra Kurspahic explains.

The first step is to boil water in a kettle. While it’s coming to the boil, you add two heaped teaspoons of coffee to the dzezva; then you pour the boiling water in, and put it on the stove for a few moments to boil and foam up, producing the kaimaki – crema.

This means that Bosnian-style coffee gets a quick infusion in hot water, a little like plunger coffee, before the boiling.

Bosnians don’t add sugar to the dzezva – they serve the coffee with a couple of sugar cubes on the side. You dip the cube in the coffee and eat it (if you stir it in you’ll also stir up the coffee sediment). Azra Kurspahic imports rough-hewn cubes of caster sugar from Bosnia.

There’s always a glass of water, and you might also get a little piece of Turkish delight; at Hanna, a small wafer biscuit arrives with the dzezva.

Azra Kurspahic is particular about her green beans, too, and it took some hunting to find the right stuff when she reopened Hanna nine years ago (another Bosnian owned the store years back, but it had closed by the time Azra Kurspahic arrived in Melbourne).

Eventually, via coffee broker Scott Bennett, she found the beans she wanted, from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil.

Hanna’s dzezva coffee is a blend of two different Minas roasts: one very light, the beans having a pale caramel colour, and one a little darker; she refers to it as “Minas”.

She grinds the beans to a fine powder on an old stone-disc grinder imported from the former Yugoslavia: the grounds would burn in a conventional grinder if you tried to grind it that fine, she says. The result is the typical dzezva (or cezve or briki) taste: “What the Italians call medicine flavour.”

Hanna Coffee and Nuts, 336A Main Road West, St Albans

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