Saturday, November 5, 2011
Kitchen Divination: Reading Turkish Coffee
Coffee tasseography, or kahve fali in Turkish, is the art of reading coffee grounds. Turkish coffee works the best for this because it is very finely ground, and the ground sit at the bottom of the cup. It is a simple method of divination and very open to interpretation. Each reader will interpret the story differently. It is commonly believed that one should not read one’s own cup.
To begin, you must first prepare the coffee. Turkish coffee is prepared in a cezve, which is a small pot with a long handle. Measure the water for the coffee in the small cup from which it will be consumed. Pour this into the cezve. Add a teaspoon of coffee per cup and stir. Cubes of sugar may be added at this point.
Heat the pot as slowly as you can. When the water starts to boil the first time, pour some (not all) of the liquid into the cups. This ensures everyone gets some of the foam. Return the cezve to the stove and bring to a slow boil a second time. Pour the coffee into the cups.
In order to assure a good reading, it is believed that the coffee should only be drunk from one side of the cup. When the coffee is finished, the cup should be covered with the saucer. Make a wish, if you desire. Swirl the cup and saucer at chest level, turning widdershins a few times. Then, turn the cup and saucer upside down. If you wish, a coin may be placed on the bottom of the cup. This is to help get rid of bad omens that could be read. This is what my former Turkish student instructed me to do when he read my cup. I placed a Turkish coin (natch) on top.
After a few minutes, the cup will be cool and the grounds will have settled. The reader then turns the cup over and reads the shapes.
For divination purposes, the cup is read in two horizontal halves. The shapes in the lower half talk about the past, and the shapes in the top half talk about the future. Likewise, shapes on the right talk of positive things, and shapes on the left can sometimes be interpreted as more negative events, enemies, illness, etc.
The shapes in the cup, according to some beliefs, can predict only up to forty days in the future. I think this depends largely on the reader, as my experience was slightly different. A good reader will usually weave the shapes together into a story. If the cup and saucer are stuck together, it is a sign that the cup should not be read.
After the cup has been read, the reader may then interpret any shapes presented in the saucer. The saucer is usually interpreted as the home of the person for whom the reading is taking place. Large blank areas are seen as a sense of relief, whereas confused and jumbled shapes read in the grounds are seen as something more negative, such as an illness or a funeral.
You can find Turkish coffee and cezves from many different sites, including www.bestturkishfood.com , which is a personal favorite. If you have experience reading tea leaves, you will probably find some similar shapes left by the coffee grounds, and you can interpret these as you would tea leaves. Happy drinking and happy reading.
Reference: Yesim Gokce (Bilkent University)/Turkish Cultural Foundation