In light of my soon to be released debut novel “Bonded by Crimson” where my heroine discovers her “destiny” or not when her friend attempts to “read” it from the cup, I chose to blog about coffee reading, a favorite pass time activity in Croatia and as you read along, you’ll learn it is popular in many countries. In my research on the topic I have learned this has a name. According to Wikipedia it’s called:
Tasseography (also known as tasseomancy or tassology) is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments.
The terms derive from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn derives from the cognate Arabic word tassa, and the Greek suffixes -graph (writing), -logy (study of), and -mancy (divination).
The first inklings of tasseography can be traced to medieval European fortune tellers who developed their readings from splatters of wax, lead, and other molten substances. This evolved into tea-leaf reading in the seventeenth century, a short time after Dutch merchants introduced tea to Europe via trade routes to China.
Scotland, Ireland, and England have produced a number of practitioners and authors on the subject, and English potteries have crafted many elaborate tea cup sets specially designed and decorated to aid in fortune-telling. Cultures of the Middle East that practice divination in this fashion usually use left-over coffee grounds from Turkish coffee (see below) turned over onto a plate.
Coffee tasseography is called καφεμαντεία in Greek or kahve falı in Turkish or gatanje in Croatia. Traditionally, coffee readers use Turkish coffee or any coffee that has grinds that sit at the bottom of the cup. Most of the liquid in the coffee is drunk, but the sediment at the bottom is left behind. It is often believed the drinker of the coffee should not read their own cup.
There are at least two forms of coffee reading. Both require that the cup be covered with the saucer and turned upside-down. Some traditions, such as in Romania, require that the sediments in the cup be swirled around – – a no-no in Croatia, means you are “making” you own fortune –the inside of the cup until they cover the majority of the cup’s inside surface. Other traditions, such as Turkish and Middle Eastern, do not require this swirling but do require that the cup be turned towards yourself –handle – for showing your own fortune. The coffee grounds are given time to settle and dry against the cup before a reading begins. I should add here—If the cup is turned up too soon and the sediments have not dried and they are sliding toward the bottom, means the drinker will cry hard soon. Flip the cup back on its saucer and wait some more. (Peeking is allowed)
Many interpretations for symbols exist, but one common thread is the color of the symbols. Since most cups used are white or ivory and the grounds are dark, strong contrast exists for the symbols. White is considered a “good” symbol foretelling of generally positive things for the drinker, while the grounds themselves are considered to form “bad” symbols.
Symbols can be many things, including people, animals, and inanimate objects. Usually, the fortune teller will group nearby symbols together for a prediction. E.g. a flying bird near a path – you’ll receive a letter (news) and then you’ll go on a road trip.
After a reading, the drinker will be asked to “open the heart”. This is done by placing the right thumb at the inside bottom of the cup and twisting clockwise slightly. This will leave an impression behind that the fortune teller will interpret as the drinker’s inner thoughts or emotions.
Turkish coffee (also Arabic coffee, Armenian coffee, Greek coffee, and more) is a method of preparing coffee where finely powdered roast coffee beans are boiled in a pot (cezve), with sugar according to taste, before being served into a cup where the dregs settle. This method of serving coffee is common throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, and the Balkans.
I hope this blog has been entertaining to you as it was for me to write it. And may all your coffee readings be enlightening with nothing but good news.
© 2012 by Zrinka Jelic