Is Coffee Fortunetelling a Real Thing?

Sometime ago I tumbled into tea fortunetelling as I was writing a blog about tea and it got me thinking do people also use coffee for predictions. And that’s how the quest for coffee fortunetelling begun. I have to admit I’m not into the fortunetelling scene (is there one?) so all this was completely new for me. But as sometimes people take coffee a bit too seriously this turned out to be a fun dive into the world of weird and peculiar but also funny and unserious way to have coffee. 

There isn’t any written documents about the history of coffee but the most common story is that goat shepards in Ethiopia were the first ones to start consuming coffee. It is said they saw difference in their goats after those had eaten coffee cherries as the goats seemed much more energetic. After trying the cherries for themselves they realized the extra kick it gave. Soon the reputation of coffee as a stimulant spread around Middle East and people learned to use coffee as a beverage instead of using the cherries. As coffee became more and more popular and widely used also the coffee culture started to form and with it phenomenas such as fortunetelling from coffee grounds.

When searching information about coffee fortunetelling, the first thing I learned was that coffee, tea or wine fortune telling is called tasseography or tasseology. The word itself is derived from the French word “tasse”, a cup, and the Greek suffix “graph”, for writing, or mancy, for divination and-logy (study of). People have always been curious about the future but when tea and coffee became more available for the bigger masses so did a manner of predict the future from them. The first written document in English about the subject is Reading the tea leaves from 1881 in the book the anonymous author tells how to read the tea leaves. It also describes the very specific preparations for the cup before the reading, twisting it to certain directions for three times etc. 

When talking about the coffee fortunetelling it is mostly executed in Middle East and some parts of Europe and North America. Especially in the Middle East with an Ibrik or Zesve to prepare the coffee from very fine ground coffee. As coffee is not filtered at all, but grounds are left in the bottom of the cup, the coffee drinker has to stop before the end of the cup to prevent consuming coffee grounds. The predictions are done from these leftovers by placing a plate on top of the cup and then flipping them over and turning the cup so the leftovers are forming a pattern where the future is seen. There are plenty of tips how to read the cup and people can do it themselves but there are also professional fortunetellers that are specialized on reading peoples cups. I was trying to find one from Finland but apparently tasseology isn’t popular service here as I could not find anybody to do it. But what I found was an app that does the fortune-telling and they brag to have over 500 000 users on daily basis, so it seems to be quite popular. Although they have been banned from Turkey due to copyright violations. For those who are into trying this old custom maybe the app is a low key and fun thing to go for. Oh and remember one should never read their own cup nor double check someone else’s predictions. 

I feel the coffee reading seems like a superstitious thing but as it is popular at some parts of the world it must give some answer or comfort for people practicing it. And if not taken too seriously it also can give an extra thing for coffee moments so if you are into knowing your future give it a go. 

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