THE Croatians gave the world the tie, the fountain pen and Dalamatian dogs, now they are giving us Špica…and it all begins with a cup of coffee.
The capital Zagreb has become the European capital of coffeehouse culture and there’s not a Starbucks or Costa Coffee insight.
Their tradition that has evolved over two hundreds years takes place every Saturday morning.
Špica is a phenomena that sees the streets turn into a catwalk as people put on their best dresses and suits to go for a coffee in the same way we would dress up for cocktails on a Friday night.
The custom captures what Croatians care about most and that’s being with family and friends and looking fashionable.
The Flower Square aka Cvjetni trg and Ban Josip Jelačić Main Square becomes a mecca for the young and trendy set in an outdoor living room.
Pronounced like pizza, Špica takes place from 10am to 3pm in the heart of the pretty capital.
The deeply rooted tradition has seen more than 200 coffee shops grow up in the compact centre.
And forget Prague or Vienna, each coffee shop is independently owned with its own rules and tastes. There are cute coffee bars to large outside cafes like Cafe de Paris with its velvet chairs and big area outside.
Some are small hidden in back rooms, upstairs and down with others revealing hundreds of seats.
Starbucks and Costa Coffee came to Zagreb around 10 years ago and promptly left. They just couldn’t compete.
This is a glamorous ritual that started in the 19th century. There’s a sense of occasion, they leave their laptops at home, people dress up and they take time over coffee – on average that means two hours.
Sipping coffee in the big squares while watching a fashion show under the Adriatic sun – it doesn’t get much better than that.
- Recommendations: Ban Josip Jelačić, Mala Vavana, Johann Franck, K&K (knjiga&kava which means book and coffee), Cafe de Paris, Peper and Millennium