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  • Christina Fotinelli

Wobbly Beginnings (Το Φλυτζανι Series)

Some people believe that they can divine the future. Every culture has its seers and sooth-saying vessels along with spells, chants, rituals, potions and incantations to ward off evil and welcome good fortune.


While most of us agree that claiming to peer into the future with any degree of accuracy is either a hoax or a delusion this was not the case in Stathis Makrakis’ household.


Orphaned at seven and raised by his three spinster aunts, it was drummed into Stathis that of all the life lessons he was to learn, two would serve him better than all others.

1.     Eat a generous dollop of extra virgin olive oil with every meal

2.     Learn to read the φλυτζανι

The first was easy enough to adhere to, his aunties saw to it. The second, the reading of the future through the interpretation of the dregs of a cup of Greek coffee, proved harder for Stathis to master.


His aunt Meropi was a coffee-telling maverick, the type who only needed to glance at the dregs to foretell the fate of the drinker.  A soothsayer in the truest sense. Meropi would peer into the cup as if she was gazing into the soul. As the dark sludge dried and formed various shapes she would sigh, shrug, weep and nod conspiratorially as the future of the nervous coffee-drinker revealed itself to her. Sphinx-like she would impart this knowledge in riddle form, using the platitudes, symbols and gestures passed down by her teachers. Not one for facts or clarity in any form, Meropi would delight in confusing her audience with unsolvable riddles and obscure pronouncements. In equal parts, this deliberate ploy was designed to keep her clients coming back for more and at the same time was served up as a sort of chastisement for daring to spoil the ritual with something as base as reality.

Stathis, sadly, had not inherited the gift. Though he listened diligently and studied copiously, when it came to be his turn to stare into the cup, all of Meropi’s wisdom and the secrets she so lovingly had imparted left him no closer to reading the future than staring at the clouds or reading the newspaper. Desperate as he was to please his beloved aunt, all Stathis could see in a cup of Greek coffee that had been drained was muddy grainy shapes, caked without rhyme or pattern snaking around the insides of the cup.

Despite her best efforts, the formidable Meropi went to her grave feeling that she’d failed her nephew. What she couldn’t have predicted – or rather could have but failed to - was that reading the φλυτζανι would come to her nephew's rescue on more than one occasion.

First Steps

  1. When the coffee is served take note of the καιμακι or crema on top. It's a glimpse - a teaser or sorts - of what's to come

  2. Once the coffee has been drunk, turn the cup around three times, counterclockwise...maybe

  3. Flip over the cup and place it at an angle, on the saucer, to drain

  4. Wait - for at least the time it takes to smoke 2 cigarettes*

*Smoking was popular when coffee telling was discovered.

5. Listen closely to the reading (questions are not encouraged but if you must, wait 'til the end)

6. Cross the reader’s palm with silver. Bonus fact: there is a direct correlation between the amount of silver and the chances of a prediction coming true.

7. If you don't like what you hear come back tomorrow. A new day, a new destiny or at least a new interpretation or interpreter - adjust the variables until your desired result is achieved.


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