Turkish Coffee with A Side of Fortune

Coffee drinking, similar to tea drinking is another social norm that is prevalent in the Turkish culture. Drinking coffee, like tea is one-way people relax. Also, drinking Turkish coffee is an effective way to start meaningful conversations. In Turkey, coffee fortunetelling is one-way people get to know more about themselves and each other.

Coffee fortune-tellers can read your future by looking at the residue in your coffee cup. During my third week in Istanbul, a man offered to tell me my fortune if I agreed to it. All I had to do was finish my cup of Turkish coffee, turn the residue upside down on the coffee plate, and make it sit for a little bit with a coin on top while I made a wish. I was too baffled to respond in the affirmative. “Wow, this man can tell my future by looking at the residue of my coffee?” It sounded too good to be true. The video I watched at the Turkish Cultural Foundation proved that my doubts about coffee fortunetelling were accurate.

Coffee fortunetelling is more like a fallacy created to make people tell others about themselves and make people know more about others. As I saw in the video, the “fortuneteller” makes up stories about his “client” and informs her. Some may happen to be true, but often, much of the story is eventually contradicted by the listener. As the listener contradicts the story she just heard, she does so by telling the real story. The fortune teller is then able to learn more about her client and vice-versa as the “reading” continues. When the client is too disappointed to continue with the fortunetelling, he or she can ask to end it.

I think that coffee fortunetelling a strategic way to start conversations with people you know barely without feeling awkward or pressured. I will be adopting this norm of sending friendly coffee invitations to acquaintances. I may not be able to persuade them to believe in my newly found ability to tell fortunes by looking into their empty cups. Hopefully, I can start by reading their names off their Starbucks cups.

This was originally written in 2015.

By Trudy M.

Trudy is the founder of SpearWoman, a blogging website for African women. The vision for SpearWoman is to be a resource and network hub for broken, impassioned, empowered, “angry” and “frustrated” young African women seeking to shake the social system by creating and destroying structures, building and tearing down systems through the power of their voices.

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