“Go make yourself a coffee and I`ll read your cup”
The waitress looked around her otherwise empty restaurant and wondered if her only client was joking.
Nope, he looked pretty serious. She expected her usual afternoon clients to suddenly appear for their coffee and somehow get her out of this unusual proposal. No one appeared. She sat there with him, at his table, where they had been passing light conversation, whilst he drank his Retsina.
Dubiously, she rose and went to make herself a heavy Greek coffee. She returned to his table and quietly sipped from the characteristically small, dumpy cups. Not normally a lover of Greek coffee, prefering a frappe, today, the taste was remarkable, rich and mellow, with that familiar, dreamy aroma. Just as she finished her coffee, she saw her afternoon regulars arrive for theirs. She pushed the empty cup to one side, rose to tend their order.
After about 15 minutes in his quiet corner, he beckoned her to take her seat. Her cup was upturned on it`s saucer. He lifted the cup with ritualistic regard and perused the sloppy mess.
Feeling embarrassed and slightly conscious for fear of appearing too keen, she glanced at his face.
His chubby finger dunked in and out of the now drying coffee grains on the side of the cup, in quick, fluid movements.
He gazed intently at the grains, his face fixated in a grave expression.
“You have too much stress”
“I do?” She retorted, slightly unconvinced.
“Look” he said, indicating the enormous pile of coffee grains in a soggy mound on her saucer. “Here. It shows your stress all lumped in the middle. Too much stress!”
She couldn`t help but agree that the pile was impressively large. Not that she knew what a normal pile of coffee grains should look like under these cirmcumstances, but the more she gazed at her pile, the more wrong it seemed.
“Here though – here is an even bigger problem” Doubt, once more flashed in her eyes. As she studied his face to see how serious he was, she became unrealistically concerned.
“This job. This job is ok, you`re doing fine and nobody can sully your merit. But! But, you`ll walk away from this job without being paid. And you`ll likely never receive a penny”
The silence was long and uncomfortable. She knew that the business was struggling. Unfortunately, in the hands of amateurs, the business was doomed. Even with no formal business education, she recognized that the series of mistakes being made, would see it`s ruin. She also knew deep down, that her unpaid wages were likely never to materialize. More disturbing though, was how this gentle Albanian knew this.
He continued his “reading” with uncanny accuracy, describing her family relations, both harmonious or otherwise. But the truth about the unpaid wages flitted backwards and forwards in her head. He concluded her “reading” by her pushing an imprint of her thumb in the base of the coffee cup`s grains, which provided him with pertinent personality characteristics. Reitterating his conditions, she acknowledged his desire for no money to exchange hands for the task, nor would she reveal his ability to “read the cup” to anybody.
Deep in thought, she completed her day`s work and returned home. Four days later, she resigned from her position as waitress.
One week later the restaurant closed it`s doors for the last time.
Some three months later, she happened upon the gentle Albanian whom had “read her cup.” Before she had the opportunity to declare the outcome of her job, he shook his head gravely and said “You don`t need to tell me – I know – you never got paid”
The term tasseography is the academic term for Turkish coffee fortune telling, which originated in Turkey in the 16th century.
Greece adopted the Turkish coffee during the Ottomon reign in Greece, latterly being named “Greek coffee”. The reading is interpreted from the coffee grounds, after the coffee has been drunk. The Turkish/Greek coffee grains leave a thick, muddy sediment at the bottom of the cup.
Swirling the cup around and turning it upside down to allow the grounds to fall, consequently, leaves some patterns on the surface of the cup, which can be interpretted.
Turkish coffee reading is very popular in Turkey and Greece and a “reader” is a treasure, sought by many.