The first time I learned about coffee reading was at my parents’ favorite Greek restaurant; I was about 13. I thought it was the coolest thing–I was a kid and I got to drink coffee and have my fortune told! What could be better than that?!
Little did I know there is a whole ritual that goes into Tasseography.
[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…Divination attempts to gain insight into the natural world through intuitive interpretation of synchronistic events. -Wikipedia] (Don’t judge that I used Wikipedia.)
Anytime I find myself at a restaurant or coffee shop where I can “chew my coffee,” I go for it. Here’s the thing about chewy coffee. It reminds me of the time when I lived in Turkey: the smells, the sounds, the culture, the scenery, everything about living in Turkey was magical and exotic. Even on the days that it was 116 mother f*cking degrees Fahrenheit or even when it was 27 freezing damn degrees. And yes, even hearing call to prayer at 5am when I was still drunk, I consider those times magical. I lived a life that was so different and unique from my regular life and chewy coffee is a way to connect to that former experience. (And yes, I do like the taste of chewy coffee.)
So when I get the opportunity to drink chewy coffee, I drink until the liquid becomes thick, I flip the cup and do not disturb it until it cools. I’ll talk and wait while the coffee and water separate to create images that then can be interpreted. The coffee has done its part for me to be in that moment. The anticipation of what the coffee will “tell” me is the fun part. It is fun to see the looks on the faces of those passing the cup around. These moments sharing stories of “what does it mean?” This is what tasseography means to me. I’m not a diviner nor do I know any, but what is important for me is the fun, the silliness, and the happy moments that ensue over coffee.
The coffee ritual reminds me to stop, savor the flavor, enjoy my present company, and truly be in that moment. I am really bad at being in the moment, so I’ll try anything to help me slow down and be at peace. It sounds contradictory to say that coffee helps me calm down, but it’s more in the process than in the drink itself that soothes my mood.
I learned that when I’m “taking coffee,” as they say in several countries, it means to slow down, take the time to smell your cup. Notice the rich, dark color. Feel the warmth of the cup, then when it is a drinkable temperature, taste the coffee. Savor the flavor. I learned in my travels that these moments are a great way to reflect on the day and just take in that peaceful, calm state.
When I traveled to Sweden for business I learned about a great coffee ritual called Fika (pronounced feeka). Fika means “coffee break” and during the week I was there, Fika was my favorite time of the morning, usually from 9am to 9:15am. They also taught me about having coffee after lunch. I picked up some new coffee habits while I was there and these were some of my favorite moments from that short trip. I have never forgotten the importance of Fika: Fika brings people together to take time to take coffee.
Coffee-loving cultures have that effect on me. They remind me to have a “five- senses moment” with coffee. Then for the cultures that have tasseography, well that just adds an element of fun. You pass the cup around and share what you see. Sometimes you see animals, sometime you see lightning, sometimes the shape of an eye. It brings people together. You laugh, you slow down and take in the moment.
Originally published: 6/24/2017