Peek into your cup—and your future—with an authentic coffee reading ceremony at this Berkeley art gallery.
Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt gingerly grabbed a handful of Turkish coffee beans and funneled them into her grandmother’s vintage brass hand mill. She positioned the mill against her hip and cranked the handle, grinding the beans into a fine, fragrant powder. She mixed the ground beans with water on a hot plate, poured it into a small gold-emblazoned teacup and passed it to me. I gently blew the billowing steam and nervously waited for the liquid to cool.
I was at Vukadin-Hoitt’s four-month-old gallery, Silvana Mondo , for a Turkish coffee reading ceremony. Vukadin-Hoitt has been reading the bottoms of cups professionally since 2012, but as she says, “I am a natural intuitive and have been, in some form or another, channeling, reading, or guiding since my teens.” Her mother’s side of the family hails from Bosnia, where there’s a rich cultural tradition tied to drinking coffee. Today, she performs these coffee readings, which can be booked by appointment, at her small Tennyson Street gallery, an eclectic space liberally decorated with collected trinkets and artwork from around the world.
Once my coffee had cooled a bit, I took a sip. It was rich—almost like a thick hot chocolate, but laced with caffeine. And even without my normal dousing of half-and-half and honey, it was delicious. Vukadin-Hoitt instructed me to leave some of the sludge at the bottom of the cup, and then to quickly turn my cup upside-down on a plastic, gold-colored platter. A few minutes later, she asked if I was ready.
Vukadin-Hoitt guided me behind thick curtains to a small glass table. She peeked gingerly under my cup before completely turning it over and gently slushing the remnants around. She tilted it again, making lines on the rectangular platter. I didn’t know what to expect.
Then she began to deliver her analysis. She told me there was a lot of residue swirling around, that I must be moving around, or in a sort of transition. I was. She then asked me a series of questions: Is there anyone religious in your family? Do you collect something—maybe birds or bunnies? She pointed into my cup. Sure enough, there it was: the little outline of a bunny. (I don't collect critters, but I do still treasure my old bunny-emblazoned baby blanket.)
I answered each of her questions honestly, and I slowly began to connect what she was saying to events and situations in my life. She then brought out a set of cards with illustrations based on Jungian psychology and asked me to pull three. The images and words on the cards assisted her with the analysis.
Here are some conclusions I gathered based on my reading: I’m attached to my home and family, but I need to keep in touch with my brother more. I’m going to be a mother someday. (Let’s hope not too soon). I need to be patient, as my life won’t be settled for another six or seven months. I’m not going to have much money (that figures). As the reading came to an end, Vukadin-Hoitt assured me in her gentle accent that everything was going to be okay.
As I left, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. Instead, I called my mom. I felt like I had a weight lifted off of me for some reason. Vukadin-Hoitt says this isn’t uncommon; she often elicits sighs of relief or “aha” moments from her patrons. Between the dreamy, relaxing feeling that washed over me and the intimate moments of conversation with the lovely and cultured Vukadin-Hoitt, it’s an illuminating experience I won’t soon forget.
If you’re interested in drinking some delicious coffee, spending time with Vukadin-Hoitt in her worldly gallery, and having a potentially life-altering experience, you can set up an appointment online  or by calling the gallery. A 30-minute session is $55; a 60-minute session is $90.
4420 Tennyson St., 720-739-0399