The first thing you notice arriving in downtown Zagreb is the endless rows of bars with terraces packed with people having coffee during the day – every day. If you, like myself, are a picky sort of coffee drinker, this seems like a dream. But it’s not quite what you expect. Finding a decent cappuccino or a perfect flat white is possible, but will require a bit of insight and some walking around.
The majority of bars and coffee shops treat coffee like a social occasion with a high return on investment. Signing a contract with a corporate brand brings in the beans – and discounts on them, free equipment and cash advances to the extent where the product itself looses importance. Most of these cafes use dark roasted bitter blends and put little skill into the preparation of milk and other important details.
Nevertheless, great coffee is here in Zagreb and these are the specialty coffee places you should visit:
Eli's Cafe, Ilica 63 Nik Oroši, four time barista champion of Croatia, recently moved his roasting equipment into this small space that has quickly gained a cult following. Here you can see the magic happening and enjoy the seasonal blends as well as single origin cups that started the regional specialty coffee revolution.
Express bar, Petrinjska 4 The number one open air coffee location very near the main square with consistent quality and great variety of preparation methods.
42 Coffee Co, Vlaška 42 The youngest specialty coffee place of them all, serving beans from Lively Roasters Co, roasted with love by the aforementioned Nik Oroši.
Cogito Coffee Shop, Varšavska 11 These guys roast their own blends and single origins, while also doing a good job outside the regular espresso machine.
Mali Caffe, Arnoldova 1 The only 'corporate' coffee that made it to this list due to quality preparation and friendly service.
HOW TO ORDER
Now that you know where to go, you should learn how to order. Since industry lingo and slang varies from country to country these should help you getting what you want:
Espresso/regular espresso: usually a half filled espresso cup.
Kratki (short) espresso: espresso ristretto.
Mali (small) macchiato: flat white in an espresso cup.
Veliki (large) macchiato: flat white in a cappuccino cup.
Bijela kava: latte.
This should get you going on your Zagreb Coffee adventure.