Coffee time in the Balkans is something that connects people over things they need to discuss (and there is always a lot to discuss!) and what gives them time to take a break from daily duties. In fact, sometimes I feel like mentality here is like: „-What time is it? -Time is a coffee!”. Then, why not to make this time more pleasant and even make a business out of it with a brilliant marketing strategy?
I drank first coffee in my life in Croatia and became an addict. In Bulgaria I met for the first time with little pieces of paper with sentences, that always go together with a coffee which you order – basically, coffee tickets. Those pieces of paper, in form of paper scrolls, are called there „късметчета” (kasmetcheta). What is „късметче” („kasmetche” is in singular, „kasmetcheta” – in plural) and what does this mysterious word mean? „Късмет” in Turkish language coming from Arabic „quisma”, means „fate” but also „luck” and it’s still used in Bulgaria. This is something that you can hear very often on Bulgarian streets, when people greet each other, wishing someone „Късмет!” in the meaning of „Good luck!”.
How did the story of coffee tickets start? Back in 2000, in one coffee place in Sofia, Bulgarian businessman – his name is Kiril Kerin – noticed that most of the people around drink their coffee quickly and emotionlessly and rush to the daily duties. He came up with an idea to make this coffee moment pleasant and meaningful by adding coffee tickets with a wise sentence or a simple wish. At first, he proposed his idea in the local cafeteria. Leaving only a hundred coffee tickets, he had a plan to come back there next day to see the results. It turned out to be successful as the coffee place got more coffee orders than usual that day. So, this is how it started to roll. Next step was to leave hand-made coffee tickets in more places. Of course, greater success comes in time and only if you never stop trying to achieve something. Kerin was rejected many times while offering his coffee tickets. Who would have thought back then that it will soon become so popular and appreciated. After a while it has been spread around the whole country. Another marketing move was to add coffee tickets when the client order a coffee from a particular coffee brand. Thus, most of the importers of coffee in Bulgaria cooperate with the company of Kerin, who patented his brilliant idea of coffee tickets and became a real businessman. Money speaks loud, but the will to make people smile is just priceless.
Those little slips of paper accompanying a coffee became a Bulgarian version of American fortune cookies. Just imagine, sitting in a coffee place, which is quiet and all the people around are occupied with their own thoughts or with newspapers in their hands, without emotions on their faces. Then they are getting a cup of coffee with a message on the small paper scroll, a message that – I have seen that – makes a one person smile. Even if it’s just a lone word like „luck”, „friend”, „adventure”, „love” – especially „love”, because it’s something that, according to Kerin, people lack the most. Some of the sentences written on coffee tickets are made up by him and here’s something very special and thought-provoking:
„Love is a pebble on which one stumbles and it hurts. Usually, people throw it away, but you better keep it.”
From Kiril with love.