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Review of Cafe Sarajevo

My buddy and I have been talking coffee for a while and we often discuss the different types of coffee. He spent quite a few years in Brazil and tells me how they brewed it there. The only cultural coffee I knew of was Turkish coffee, so I decided to seek some out.

Living in Arizona, I have a very difficult time finding good cultural experiences. They are here, but they are in hidden pockets, and often in bad parts of town. I finally found a place that served Turkish coffee, Cafe Sarajevo (http://www.yelp.com/biz/caffe-sarajevo-phoenix). It was rated 4.5 stars on Yelp and the pictures looked great, so my friend and our families met for dinner and coffee.


Cafe Sarajevo was a full cultural experience, with language barrier and all. The people were great, but we didn't know what anything on the menu was. My friend told our server (who I think was the owner/manager), "We have no idea what we are doing. Can you recommend something?" She recommended a sampler platter and we agreed to it. She led us through our experience that night from an appetizer of cured meat, multiple types of entrees and dessert. The food was fantastic.
When she brought us the desserts to share and I asked if we could have coffee and if I could watch her make it. She teased about charging me extra for the show, but was happy to let me into the kitchen to watch.

I knew a little about Turkish coffee, but my server was kind enough to walk me through the process as she made it. She had a small pan on the fire to boil watter while she scooped the coffee directly into the ibrik. Having grown up on cowboy coffee, I knew I was going to be dealing with a little extra at the bottom of the cup.

She poured the water and let it bloom a first time. I love to see the bloom. Coffee looks like chocolate and caramel at that point. I could eat it with a spoon (yes, I would immediately regret that decision).

After the first bloom settled, she passed the ibriks over the flame to bring them to a quick boil again. She passed them over the flame one more time for only a couple of seconds, then placed them on the set. The set was beautiful with the batching plate, ibrik and sugar bowl.

I carried my coffee out and our server brought the other two. I had let my coffee settle a little, because I knew it would just be sludge if i poured it in as soon I sat down. I don't think that was the correct thing to do, because our server demonstrated by pouring it straight into my friends cup.

The coffee in the cup looked thick and creamy as espresso does. I tried it without any sugar first and it was very strong. It had an earthy flavor and a heavy body, due to the fine grounds that remain in the coffee. My wife tried it and said that it tasted kind of woody, which reinforced my "earthy" description. I added a single cube of sugar and stirred until it was broken down. The sugar added a nice sweetness to the earthy coffee. There had to only be 1-2 oz of water in each ibrik because it was over in only a few sips. At the bottom of my cup was sludge unlike anything I had experienced before. I was not paying attention and ended with about a spoonful of grounds in my mouth. Mmmm, crunchy coffee!

Overall, it was a fantastic cultural experience. The food was great. The server was very gracious to let me watch her make the coffee. If you are looking for a great experience, I strongly recommend Cafe Sarajevo.



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