Coffee, an Albanian tradition and ritual

Have you ever visited Albania? If not, you will certainly experience a sort of a culture shock, in a good way! A welcoming phrase you’ll continuously hear will be: Let’s sit for a coffee! Something you will see is coffeehouses (Albanian’s call them ‘Lokal’) full of people at any time of the day! What are they doing?

It is part of the Albanian culture to stay for long hours in cafes, solving problems in cafes, even signing important agreements or documents in front of a cup of coffee, and this has its roots in an early tradition.

Coffee was the seal that set a deal from which there was no turning back. Albanians have many symbols in the ritual of drinking coffee. These rituals marked positive and negative messages in different types of relationships, meetings or situations.

 Coffee still nowadays has a great part in the Albanians’ life and as Spiegel puts it: Coffee is a national sport in Albania.

Coffee, part of the Albanian traditions

Coffee is an invitation to friendship

In Albania, coffee has been and remains the most favorite drink in everyday life and in almost all important ceremonies.  The Swedish writer Sven Auren(1), during his visit to Albania, wrote, among other things: "Coffee is a symbol of peace, generosity and culture".  Coffee had almost become a sacred rite.  It did not matter if you were poor or rich but if a friend who stepped on the doorstep did not approach you for a coffee, then you had violated the most basic law of the province.  Inviting a friend for a cup of coffee is the first obligation of the head of the family, far more important than shaking hands.  In Albanian society, coffee preceded all socially friendly conversations, often even official conversations.  According to Sven Auren: “The best coffee in the world is drunk in Albania.  It has such a good aroma… .. it has a perfect ratio between sugar and coffee ".


(1) Sven Aurén, was a Swedish journalist that has visited Albania 4 times, starting from 1938 when he came for the wedding of King Zog and ending in September 1968 where he visited for the last time Albania.

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