Coffee is a way of life in Dalmatia. Matija Hrkac, the CEO of Croatia’s first independent chain of coffee roasters, shares his recommendations for the best cafés and coffee shops in Dubrovnik.
In Dubrovnik, there are plenty of charming cafés and coffee shops hidden within the city’s ancient alleyways; for a long time, however, the coffee on sale was rarely much to write home about. That all changed with the opening of Cogito, Croatia’s first independent chain of coffee roasters. Matija Hrkac, the CEO of Cogito, remarks that “Dubrovnik had everything that tourists visiting Croatia love: plenty of history and beautiful nature. The only thing missing was great coffee.”
“The quality has improved immensely in the last 10 years in Croatia,” Hrkac explains. “Coffee is part of a gastronomic experience and customers expect much more from coffee shops these days. The quality of coffee shops in the world has grown better and better, and now Croatia is part of that.”
The cute, unashamedly kitschy Pupica isn’t your run-of-the-mill café. It’s also a slastičarnica (patisserie) with a handsome range of homemade cakes, muffins and brownies good enough to seduce any passerby. The interior is as sweet as the treats – cosy, with white shabby-chic furniture – but it doesn’t offer a huge amount of space to sit down. The two wooden tables outside are a better bet if you’re looking for a pick-me-up set in an atmospheric street in the Old Town.
The ever-enterprising Cogito set up shop six years ago in the Croatian capital, Zagreb. “We roast our coffee at our HQ in Zagreb,” Hrkac says. “Most of the beans we source directly from origin or working closely with quality-oriented green coffee buyers in Europe.” Try the signature Tesla blend – named after the Croatian inventor, it’s a crisp, versatile mix of Ethiopian and Costa Rican beans. “Our first Dubrovnik location opened on Stajeva street three years ago,” Hrkac adds. Set beneath the shadow of St John’s Fortress, near the entrance of the Maritime Museum, it’s a great place to stop for an energiser once you’ve walked the route of the city walls. This area of town is also known as “Catsville” thanks to the community of stray felines that congregate in this tiny square and its abundance of greenery.
“There are more and more great bars and cafés in and around Dubrovnik, like Lokal, part of One Suite Hotel,” Hrkac says. Set on Dubrovnik’s Riviera (an easy walk from the Old Town), Lokal offers a swish, modern interior and an excellent supply of morning pastries, freshly squeezed juices and organic fair-trade coffee. And, once you’ve tackled the morning munchies, you can dive into the crystal-blue Adriatic Sea for a dip – Kupari and Srebreno beaches are a short stroll away.
“Last summer, we opened our second location in Dubrovnik at Ploče Gate,” says Hrkac. Make a beeline here for good coffee in a central location. “What makes Cogito different is the quality of our coffee and a menu that’s a bit more diverse,” he adds. Their new café doesn’t disappoint – you’ll find a strong selection of cold brews, iced coffee, locally roasted blends and artisanal ice cream. It’s also significantly cheaper (and better quality) than the coffee offered by many of the cafés that line the bustling, pedestrianised Stradun thoroughfare.
For an old-school Croatian café experience, Hrkac recommends Gradska Kavana for its “amazing terrace and old city feel”. Located just off Dubrovnik’s central piazza, the location is unbeatable – and the expansive open-air terrace offers excellent views of Sponza and Rector’s Palace. There’s also a waterfront restaurant attached – steeped in history, it’s been serving first-rate fish and seafood dishes since the 1880s.
The café with the best view in Dubrovnik? “That would probably be Panorama,” says Hrkac, adding that the café is “overlooking the city of Dubrovnik, at the upper cable car station”. Located at the summit of Mount Srđ, Panorama provides just that – excellent views stretching over the harbour. The vista is spectacular; the Old Town and Lokrum Island are swallowed up by the blazingly blue sea as you ascend the peak. The cable car is currently closed but should be operational by summer 2020.
Bar, Mediterranean, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Fast Food, Street Food, $$$
Courtesy of Cave Bar More Dubrovnik
Situated on the waterfront of the upscale Babin Kuk neighbourhood, Cave Bar More is one of Croatia’s most atmospheric café-bars. Set below ground, in the natural contours of a cave below Hotel More, the rocks are illuminated with sparkling LED lights, complemented by a down-tempo soundtrack. The coffee is good, but the cocktails are even better – and if you fancy a sundowner, there are great views of the Old Town from the seafront outside.
With a prime spot on the Stradun promenade, Café Festival is something of an institution in Dubrovnik. Sure, it’s pricey – but you’re paying for the fantastic location, and there are more than enough customers to guarantee a buzz. Simple breakfasts, smoothies and homemade cakes provide even more inducement to visit this centrally located café.