Can the first coffee of the day really ‘tell’ what will happen to you for the rest of that day and well beyond into your future?
Coffee reading has been around for centuries. But in recent times there has been a revival with Lebanon at the forefront of this resurgence. So, Lebanon Traveler sent it’s reporter off to investigate. And after many cups of coffee and, hence sleepless nights, here is what he discovered. But first, a brief history: The early origins of tasseography (coffee readings in this case) point to tea and China, that is until merchants began trading coffee across the Middle East, where Arab fortune tellers jumped the ‘tea ship’, so to speak, and began coffee readings in earnest.
This was way back in the 16th and
17th centuries and when elders of the
community would secretly give readings
to those desperately seeking a peek into
their future. To keep the skill alive, coffee
reading was passed down to family
members throughout the generations.
The here and now
Fast forwarding to the 21st century, it
seems as if nearly every coffee shop in
Beirut and beyond has a resident ‘coffee
reader’: Kahwet Leila in Gemmayzeh,
Cappuccino in Achrafieh, Public in
Antelies, just to name a few. There are
countless others; all you need to do is ask
Today, coffee reading in Lebanon is
all about fun, or at least it should be,
shouldn’t it? However, the abundance
of ‘professional’ coffee readers, some
gaining almost celebratory status, with
charges to match and even having a
secretary to maintain a strict booking
system and a waiting list that span
weeks, says otherwise.
How long have you been giving coffee
readings and who taught you to ‘read’?
I have been doing it for 10 years. My
cousin who studied astrology taught me
by explaining to me what the signs in
the coffee cup mean.
Do you believe in it?
No, it’s not a belief but I do think some
people are more intuitive than others. I
just do readings for friends and family at
home in Rabieh.
How difficult is it to ‘read’ coffee?
It’s not difficult because it’s based on
intuition and on the impression the
reader gets from the person [having their
How much do you charge?
Oh no, I don’t charge. It’s just for fun.
I think the readers that sit in cafes
and charge take advantage of people’s
despair. Always have a reading with a
neighbor or friend just for fun. Never
base your decisions in life on a coffee
Can anyone learn to ‘read’ or is it a gift?
I think some people are predisposed
because they have a sense of
receptiveness towards other people.
Do the cups used for the coffee reading
make a difference? I believe so. They have to be heavy, white
inside, preferable the shaffé type, and the
person has to have taken at least a sip.
Is there a certain time of the day when it
is better to have a reading? I don’t think the actual time of day
matters but apparently readings on a
Friday are more accurate. But I have no
A hidden army of coffee
Away from its public face, there is
a traditional unseen army of coffee
readers, hidden within many residential
buildings nationwide. Mothers, sisters,
aunts and daughters (and male
equivalents, although less so), double up
as soothsayers for friends, neighbors and
Lebanon Traveler located Maria (who
didn’t want to give her family name),
aged 44 and asked her to reveal the
lowdown on coffee reading.
So, tell us about an unusual reading.
I once saw a snake in my neighbor’s
coffee cup and the next day the neighbor
found a snake in a lettuce she bought at
the grocery store.
So, if you are Lebanese then the
likelihood that you know a coffee reader
on your street is quite probable. But what
if you are a tourist just passing through?
Well, you can ask around in cafés and
pay for coffee reading services. But if
you want to have your coffee read by a
housewife and for free then your best bet
is to make some Lebanese friends.
GOOD TO KNOW
The 5 different cup zones and what they mean
1. Part around the cup handle is connected to the love life
2. The left side of the cup handle represents the present
3. The bottom represents home and family
4. The opposite side of the cup handle represents financial situation
5. The right side of the cup handle represents the future
• Alphabet letters in the reading refer to the initials of a person, place, etc.
• Numbers refer to time, date and age or anything else connected with that particular number that shows in the reading.
• Numerous dots in one spot refer to message, kissing or travel.
• Straight lines are considered as clear paths and plans with specific goals. Wavy lines mean instability in your life.
• If the entire cup is filled completely with very small symbols and lines it means your thoughts are unclear.
What’s in a Word?
• Tasseography, also known as tasseomancy or tassology, is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea-leaves, coffee grounds or wine dregs.
• The terms derive from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn derives from the cognate Arabic word tassa, and the Greeks suffixes –graph (writing), -logy (study of), and – mancy (divination).
So you want to know your future? Here’s where to go.
• Beirut Corniche
Usually at night time; seek and you may find.
• Manara Palace Café +961 1 363949
No set times
• Café Rawda +961 3 679237
No set times
• La Maison du Café +961 1 332300
Wednesday & Friday
• Cappuccino Grand Café +961 70 771616
• Public +961 4 444485/6
Tuesday & Thursday
• La Tasse +961 3 679237
Every day except Wednesday & Sunday. By appointment only.
*Times may change. Call to check beforehand