Preparing and drinking coffee is a hugely important ritual in Turkey, and is often followed by the art of fortune telling.

AOne of the fundamental things binding people together in Turkey is their coffee. More than a tasty, bracing beverage, it has long been a catalyst for social gatherings and leisurely conversations; a daily staple and treasured ritual. Neighbors visiting each other, friends meeting up, businessmen sealing a deal—all require cups of Turkish coffee.

The governor of Yemen first brought coffee to the Ottoman capital of Istanbul in 1554. Coffee was initially a beverage for royals only, consumed in the palaces. But over time, everyday people gained access to the fascinating drink, and coffee houses began popping up around Istanbul. There were even times when coffeehouses were banned by sultans because of the political discussions taking place there. There are still some historical Ottoman-era coffeehouses in Istanbul.

The patterns made by coffee grounds, which are interpreted to tell the future, are the most intriguing part of the Turkish coffee ritual for many people.

Here are a few shapes to keep an eye out for:

A turtle connotes a house; usually purchasing a new one or moving out.

Birds are usually associated with news and money. Either you are going to hear from someone, or you are finally getting the payment you have been expecting.

While long lines may indicate a journey in the near future, if it’s blocked by another symbol or ends abruptly you won’t be able to take this trip.

Fish is another popular figure appearing in coffee cups and it shows that you have kısmet, meaning luck, the chance of getting married, or finding a special one. Whereas a seahorse is related to good things on the way, like a promotion or a new job.

Camels point to success after a hard period, whereas roosters are a symbol of new beginnings.

If the coffee grounds completely cover the bottom of the cup, it suggests you have a lot of stress and trouble right now in your life. If the grounds cover half of it, you are getting rid of the bad days soon. If there is a hump in the grounds, you have been or will be thrilled by some news.

While reading the symbols you can combine them and use your own creativity to deduce different meanings; just go with what you feel.

How to prepare Turkish coffee

For one cup of orta şekerli (medium sweet) Turkish coffee:

  • One Turkish coffee cup of water (room temperature)
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Two teaspoons of Turkish coffee

Mix and heat on a low temperature in a cezve (copper vessel). Take the foam off the top right before it boils and add it to your Turkish coffee cup. Pour slowly. Serve with a glass of water, and something sweet on the side.