Most people would consider kahve falı, the practice of reading coffee grinds at the bottom of a cup of Turkish coffee, fortune telling, but I do not. What I do is read the images on the cup and am guided, somehow in ways I cannot explain very well myself, to tell you what lies in your innermost heart and what you have the power to bring into being. Sometimes, just hearing me tell the story is enough for it to manifest.
Maybe you will think it strange that I can do this. After all, I am not Turkish. The tradition of reading cups was not handed down to me from my mother or grandmother as in the case of most of my Turkish friends. This type of tradition is very important in kahve falı, which came to us from the social world of the coffee house. The first one opened here in İstanbul (then Constantinople) in 1554 (though others suggest it was as early as 1475). Coffee and coffee culture soon spread throughout Europe and was all the rage by the mid-18th century. Alongside the joys of sharing a cup and conversation with friends came the art and practice of coffee-cup reading. What could be better than a look into the future?
Of course, I am a storyteller, so I believe it is more of a reading. And reading a story was natural and easy for me from the first reading I ever had. When my friend had finished with my cup, she handed me hers saying, “You see how I did it. Now, you do it.” The images I saw suggested the story – and still do today when I read – of the person’s deepest dreamsbd111c37w1-LSOQMMTULNMTPNNMS.
When you come to İstanbul be sure to have a coffee and a coffe cup reading. The deep, dark kahve (coffee) can be ordered to your taste in three ways – sade – or plain, without sugar; orta – or the middle way, with some sugar; or şekerlı –  sweet.) The way you order it does not affect the grounds that settle at the bottom of the cup or the reading. Preparing for the reading is easy. First, have an intention of what you desire to know from the cup before you begin sipping the kahve. Then, enjoy the taste and conversation with your friends around you. When you are finished place the saucer upside down over the cup with your left hand. Place the thumb of your left hand over the saucer and the remaining four fingers on the base of the cup. Swirl the cup (which moves the grinds around) in front of you at the level of your heart. When you feel the time is right, flip the cup over in the direction toward your heart. Place the cup on the table and wait for it to cool. Tradition says you can take off your rings and place them on top of the cup to draw the heat away – or a coin, such as a Turkish lira, will do the job just as well. The cup needs to be cold before it can be read and the reader can begin.
I find it easier to read a stranger’s cup because with friends I want to see their deepest desires come true. With a stranger, I am completely free to tell the story I see and I do not add my desires to theirs. So when you come to İstanbul, have your cup read. I might even be the one who reads it for you.


~Alba Brunetti
March 2013