In all parts of Croatia, it is common to drink morning coffee and watch passers-by. This national "sport" is also held in Žminj. But the morning coffee in this Istrian town is still special. We sit in the pizzeria Orhideja, known for its excellent pizzas, and catch the morning rays of the sun on the terrace and look forward to the corretto. It is an espresso spiced with brandy or cognac, perfect for an even better and happier start of the day. Not to mention that we got a great coffee liqueur next to it!
While we are enjoying this happy beginning of our visit to Žminj, the director of the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Žminj, Lenka Šajina, reveals a great story about the secret connection between Žminj and coffee. Primo Rovis, the founder of the famous Italian brand Cremcaffé, was born in this city in 1922. Already as a child, he was left without parents and had a difficult childhood. Until he came of age, he beat the stone to rebuild roads, and when he went to Trieste as a 25-year-old, his life changed abruptly.
"Primo Rovis opened a small shop in Trieste. There he heard that the best coffee was in Brazil and went to a distant country and imported Brazilian coffee, which raised the port of Trieste. He founded a very famous company Cremcaffé ", Lenka tells us, reminding us that not only coffee came from Brazil but also his wife. It all grew out of a coffee roaster in the middle of Trieste, and he himself enjoyed the flavours of this sought-after beverage well into old age. Primo Rovis died in 2014 at the age of 91.
His legacy is great because he was a famous philanthropist. He did not forget his origin and poverty in Žminj. Lenka reminds that he helped the Red Cross and health workers, and set aside money for both Mato Parlov and HNK Rijeka. He was able to accomplish all this because he met Josip Broz Tito. There is even an anecdote about how Primo Rovis managed to bring his famous coffee to Yugoslavia. During one meeting, Tito made him coffee, which Primo praised but offered to make his own coffee. Tito was delighted with it and stated that it was a coffee to be drunk by the working people. In this way, coffee from Trieste arrived in Yugoslavia.
However, this coffee did not immediately reach the working people but was enjoyed by gentlemen. The people in Žminj drank škandiel (which is the name for barley) which was ground on broštulin or a hand-held coffee grinder. Then came the widely known Divka, which is made by frying chicory roots and barley. There is also a story with Divka, which is transmitted by Lenka: "There used to be so many cafes and taverns in Žminj, and coffee was not drunk in the taverns anyway. There was a snack and a sip of wine. The guests were almost exclusively men and the women started making coffee at home. That was Divka. Men usually worked in the production of bauxite or in the railway, and their wives prepared coffee with Teran wine in order to raise their energy. For children, they made white coffee with bread. "
We are already in another coffee place, this time in Žminjska oštarija, where we drink coffee with homemade whipped cream. Žminjska oštarija is located at the main intersection in the heart of the town, and it is worth stopping by to see photos and pictures of old Žminj. Here we find out another interesting fact about the legend of Žminj. Primo Rovis also collected valuable materials and precious stones, and the University of Moscow gave him an honorary degree in mineralogy. He carefully collected all this in Trieste to eventually open a very valuable and rich museum of minerals.
Therefore, the next time you pass through the Žminj region, you should keep in mind that coffee beans in this area are made with a great historical heritage of world renown, but also with a lot of cafes that serve top-quality coffee. Cheers, with a corretto!