Tag Archives: coffee

Armenian Coffee Recipe

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Armenian
Age: 20
Occupation: student
Residence: Los angeles
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece: 

Informant- “ I would like to share with you my culture’s coffee, Armenian Coffee. The first step is you add 1 cup of water per person. I am making this for me and my mother. I added a little bit of extra water because you want to make sure the cup is filled to the brim. 

So then I use columbian coffee and add it just a little bit over a spoonful of coffee. Add a little more so about 3 spoons. I like my coffee very strong. You can use coffee that is ground up very finely. 

Then start the stove on high and let the water boil.

It is important that you use the proper coffee cup in order to complete the fortune reading at the end.  You also use Jazve coffee pot which is also used in many cultures, Armenians, Turks, Persians. 

So when it is boiling you can let the foam break or keep it. I like the foam because it is full of tons of antioxidants and tastes really good. 

So now my coffee is done and I will pour it in. Make sure to fill the cup all the way to the top.” 

Background: The informant learned the Armenian Coffee recipe from her mother. In the video, she explains that she is making a cup for her and her mother. Armenian coffee is meant to be shared, an important way to bond with family and friends. 

Context: This piece was collected from a full tutorial video created by my informant. The informant lives with her family in Los Angeles and is 20 years old. The tutorial describes the steps to creating Armenian coffee. It is too long to upload so I have included an outline of the audio. 

Thoughts: This is an interesting tradition that is important to her family. She spends time making coffee for her grandmother and mother and remembers times they made her coffee. This recipe is important to the Armenian culture and is recycled through generations. 

Armenian Coffee Readings/ Ritual

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Armenian
Age: 20
Occupation: student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Informant- “So when you are done drinking your Armenian Coffee you want to flip the cup away from your body and place it down into the saucer. You wait for the grounds to fall from the bottom of the cup. This is why it is important to use the Armenian style espresso cup which is not rounded on the sides. The grounds fall down the sides of the espresso cup and dry at the bottom. 

So you should never read your own fortune. Thats what my friend, who is a professional Armenian coffee cup reader, tells me. 

Waiting for the coffee to dry is important because it is time to have a conversation with your friends or family. 

So when its ready.. you take a look at your cup. So there are a few things to look out for when you are reading someones cup. 

If you cup sticks to the bottom and is hard to take off, then someone is in love with you! This is what some people believe and it is what my Armenian grandmother told me. I have had many Armenian grandmothers teach me how to read cup and what to look out for. 

So, when you look in your cup the coffee grind will settle at the bottom. You look and interpret what you see. So for example you could see a bird, and that may mean you are about to travel or freedom. You can see an egg or something.

So it is very important to read your cup during the day. You get bad luck if it is read at night. You shouldn’t read you own cup because then you will just see what you want to see. If the cup is very dark and filled with ground then your mind is full. If the cup has clear spots then your mind is at ease. 

Lastly you should hold your cup and think of an intention or wish and then mark the bottom of the cup with your finger.”

Background: The informant learned about the practice of reading the coffee cup from her mother and grandmother. She says it is a fun way to keep traditions. Reading cups is a good bonding experience and has connected her to her parents and grandparents. 

Context: This piece was collected from a video tutorial sent by the informant. Here is the audio transcription describing her experience with coffee readings. In the video she shows the espresso cup used and the different shapes of dried coffee grounds. 

Thoughts: This is a very interesting tradition and fun activity that brings family and friends together. This is an interesting folk practice and belief that is widely believed. She explains her friend who is a professional coffee reader. You can read more about the history of cup reading or  Tasseography in many blogs or academic sources. There are many professions or products distributed surrounding this folk belief. 

A variation of the Armenian coffee reading can be read about here;

Giorgi, Carina Karapetian. “Intuitive Knowledge: The Queer Phenomenology of Armenian Matrilineal Rituals of Tasseography.(Essay).” Armenian Review, vol. 56 -2, no. 1, Armenian Review, Mar. 2018.

Dalgonaa Coffee

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 24
Occupation: Barista
Residence: Seoul, Kora
Date of Performance/Collection: 14 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Original Script: 달고나커피

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer. It was conducted in Korean, and was since translated.

Informant: Dalgona coffee is a new viral recipe. Dalgona is the name of popular street candy in Korea, and the coffee is named after that because of the similar taste and color to the candy. So the recipe was first made in Korea, but you see people everywhere make the thing now.

Interviewer: Can you describe the recipe?

Informant: You mix sugar and instant coffee power, about the same ratio. You add a spoon of hot water, and blend everything. This is the key point, you have to like, really mix it. Some say it’s about 400 whips, but it’s more like 4000 if you’re using no electric utensils. Anyways after you mix it for like 10 fish minutes, the mixture’s gonna be really thick and have this beige color, which is the dalgona color. You pour a glass of milk, and drop that mixture on top. You mix the two and drink it.

Interviewer: Where did this recipe originate?

Informant: It wasn’t a thing until like, this year, once the stay at home order started. Koreans were just bored, and was looking for something to do I guess. It’s kind of the perfect thing to make in quarantine. This recipe requires a lot of manual labor, that’s the kind of stuff you need to distract yourself. And the coffee is delicious, so there’s that.

Interviewer: Why do you think the recipe became viral? Dalgona isn’t a widely known candy anywhere outside Korea.

Informant: I think it’s because everyone’s bored everywhere right now. No matter what nationality, people just want something to do. And with stuff like TikTok and Twitter, anything can be viral globally now.

Background:

The informant is a barista in Seoul, Korea. The recipe preexisted in different cultures, most notably in Macao. But around January of 2020, the recipe became a viral trend amongst Korean Twitter users, and it has since spread all over the world under the name ‘Dalgona Coffee’. On social media apps like Tiktok, making this coffee has gotten viral- under hashtag “dalgonacoffee” there are 280 million views on Tiktok, as of April 2020, and recreating this recipe has since become a viral challenge. Many cafes in Korea have since started actually selling this coffee, including the very cafe that my informant works at.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, and the informant was alone in his apartment during the talk, in a comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

I think this recipe had all the perfect elements to go viral. It’s extremely easy to make, and there’s just the right amount of mundane labor to keep you distracted, but not enough to tire you out too much. It’s a delicious coffee too, so it only made sense that people around the world took part in this challenge.

A Canadian Double-Double

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Canadian
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Palm Desert, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/16/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Collector: What exactly does double-double mean to Canadians?

HK: In Canada, Tim Horton’s coffee is a big part of our diet, so generally a double-double means a Timmy Ho’s coffee with two creams and two sugars. Even though I guess it can mean any coffee with two cream and two sugars, it usually means Tim Hortons.

Collector: When did you first learn this term and how?

HK: I’ve known it for as long as I could remember. Both of my parents are Canadian and big coffee drinkers so I learned it from them at a pretty young age. 

Collector: Is this a term that is widely used in Canada or a smaller community you are familiar with?

HK: I’m pretty sure everyone in Canada knows what a double-double is. Everywhere I have been has used it and I have traveled through much of Canada. 

Collector: When did you realize this term was unique to Canada and Canadians?

HK: Well it was when I first moved to California when I was fifteen. I had made some new friends and they took me to In-n-Out Burger. I asked them what they were going to order there and when they all responded “a double-double”, I immediately asked, “you guys got Timmy Ho’s here?”. They then looked at me like I was from another planet. And that is the moment I realized that a double-double had a very different meaning to Americans. 

Collector: How did that experience change your understanding of both the term double-double and Canadian and American culture?

HK: It made me realize that although Canadians and Americans are very similar there are still a lot of subtle differences between them. I guess Canadians are more into coffee and Americans are more interested in cheeseburgers.

Context: My informant is an eighteen-year-old freshman student at USC. He was born and raised solely in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada until age fifteen then moved to Palm Desert, California. Even since living in California, my informant has still spent around a month every summer in Canada. His explanation of this folk term to me was done in person at the Sigma Chi fraternity house at USC. 

Analysis: I find it fascinating that the term double-double is so widely used in both America and Canada however, it describes two different large aspects of each countries culinary culture. It shows that for one Tim Hortons coffee is a much larger part of Canada’s culinary culture and cheeseburgers are a much larger part of America’s. It also exemplifies how even though Canada and America seem to be very similar there is a lot of difference between the two cultures. 

 

Morning Rituals

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American-Hispanic
Age: 20
Occupation: Student and Cast member at Walt Disney World
Residence: San Antonio, Texas
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/11/2018
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you have any rituals that you perform? Whether it’s a family tradition or something you have to do for luck or positivity – anything of the sorts?

 

Interviewee: Do morning routines count? Because they are something I take very seriously! It’s like you and coffee!

 

Interviewer: Sure, go ahead!

 

Interviewee: Morning routines are something I take very seriously. As an individual I like to think of myself as spontaneous and very outgoing but before I can do that I have to complete my morning routine. Very contradicting– I know!…. Spontaneity but orderly. It’s a good mix. So, at night I set two alarms. One 3 hours before I have to leave and one 2 hours to allow myself time to fully wake up. Once awake I turn on my shower to get it nice and hot. Then I brush my teeth and put my contacts in. Then I wash my face and take a shower. Once I’m dressed I call my mom while I make my lunch (I think she’s the most essential part to my morning routine). Then I’m off to work but before I go in I have to get Starbucks or some form of coffee. I don’t want to say I’m addicted, but I’m addicted. My day goes horribly wrong if I don’t have it in my system. Then I’m off to conquer my day and I do it all again the next.

 

Analysis:

This does not seem like a traditional ritual, but the informant’s morning ritual is a ritual nonetheless, just on an individual level. Parts of her ritual can also be classified as superstitions that she holds it extremely dear to her daily life. For instance, her belief that her day goes horribly wrong if she doesn’t have coffee is superstitious. There could be many reasons or coincidences as to why her day might be good or bad – not just whether or not she had coffee. (But as someone else who loves coffee, I completely understand where she is coming from).

A Ritual Of Coffee Service Employees

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican American
Age: 39
Occupation: Barista
Residence: Los Angeles, CA (downtown)
Date of Performance/Collection: April 26 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

The informant in question is a barista with one of the most popular and well established coffee companies in Los Angeles. The ritual in question is, in the informants experience, company wide. Every employee does it.

“Working at a coffee shop with constant, bustling lines and loud talk Is really tiring. Getting really good coffee to thousands of people in one day is a difficult task. Our service line is like a manufacturing line, and we have to also retain a certain level of quality. We start at six in the morning and some of us work far, far into the day. The work is good though.

Mid shift, when the shift is halfway over, we all take a shot of water from our espresso cups. It’s something we all do, right in the middle of the day. It’s like taking a real shot, you know? To celebrate, to get you through it. It’s like ‘the day is halfway over’ and it’s a nice tradition. It helps us keep working and get over the halfway bump”

How long have you been doing it?

“Oh, ever since I’ve been at the company. Always. It’s something we came up with as a team to motivate ourselves. At first we thought, maybe a shot of beer. But there’s lots of us that shouldn’t and can’t do that so we take a shot of water instead. It’s great”

Analysis: This is a cool little ritual that must be helpful for gathering some energy. These baristas are standing all day, constantly pulling shots and servicing people. At first, the informant couldn’t think of any pieces of folklore to share with me. But he got quite excited in sharing this little ritual of theirs.

Coffee Fortune

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Nicaraguan
Age: 20
Occupation: Student at USC
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 03.29.2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Original Script: “Basically he Armenian culture has this thing where they can get the fortune read through coffee…it has to be…they have a specific coffee powder that they use…usually a group of woman gather at a table and the coffee is poured. It is usually the oldest woman who reads everyone’s fortune at the table, you know ‘the wise woman.’ Who my cousin mentioned was kind of scary…Anyways, after they drink the coffee the head lady reads the fortune…it is kind of like Harry Potter at that part where the lay was reading tea leaves…kind of like that. Basically my cousin fortune was true that she got from the coffee reader. The wise woman told her she was going to get married soon…and she did! It was really cool”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Kamilah and her mother have always been spiritual people. The belief in witches, demons, and angels is strong to Kamilah’s mother however, it is even more so in her home country—Nicaragua. While Kamilah did not particularly believe in witches as her roots from Nicaragua do, the case with Rosario Murillo, really made Kamilah a strong believer in them. However, while Kamilah is not technically Armenian, her closest friends, who are like her family, are. Thus, she is very familiar with the nationality and practices of the Armenian folk.

Context of the Performance: Getting a fortune read

Thoughts about the piece: When Kamilah had told me this story about the coffee reading, my mind automatically went to the pop culture Harry Potter series before she had made the comparison herself. I knew that there were cultures that believed in the drinking of an herb (in this case coffee) could tell one’s fortune, however, hearing the process from Kamilah was a very fascinating experience. As mentioned, the connection with the pop culture phenomenon of Harry Potter, was an interesting parallel to this Armenian practice, for both have an elderly woman communicating the fortune to the individual out of a herb like substance. Additionally, I thought it was very interesting how they have a “wise woman” at the head of the table. It reminded me of the previous story I had interviewed Kamilah about (one that was about witches in Nicaragua) and that being personified as a witch is attributed to people fearing a person. In this setting, to me, it seems a that this fortune telling can be attributed to witchcraft because of the group not only being compiled of woman—and only woman—but also for the fact that there is a head “wise” witch, a woman which all the woman look up to as a leader and also fear her—personifying the woman as a witch.

Moreover, it is also interesting how it has to be a specific kind of coffee for the fortune telling to take place. With the group of woman, and the specific type of coffee, the coming together of a fortune seems almost ritualistic. Especially, the going around of the table to tell one another’s fortune as well as the wise woman being the head of the table, and also the only one to tell the fortunes—seems like it is all part of a ritual. This also brings in an interesting question, and opposition to the common American belief, in respecting elders. While America separates themselves entirely from the elderly—having specific designated homes for the elderly and having one of most developed retirement programs in the world, most foreign countries have a great respect for their elders, specifically their wisdom which is shown in this display of fortune telling among the Armenian women.

Furthermore, I think it is interesting that even though Kamilah is not Armenian, she does believe in some of the customs of the Armenian people because of her closeness to her friends. This adds the notion of culture being learned and not being something one is born with. Thus, her cousin—whom she is also close to—going to one of these fortune telling rituals, even though not Armenian, and the fortune actually becoming true, initiating the belief in both Kamilah and her cousin tells us that culture can be learned. Hence, this ritual can also be seen as an inanition to a kin group.

Turkish coffee

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Turkish
Age: 20
Occupation: student
Residence: Istanbul, Turkey
Date of Performance/Collection: January 14, 2012
Primary Language: Turkish
Other Language(s): english

My informant, a friend from Turkey, fed our group of friends some Turkish coffee in special, tiny mugs. She told us that when we were finished drinking our coffee, to hand the cup to her so she could read our coffee lines. She read the coffee grind/water sludge that stuck to the bottom of our cups and judged for us the luck/goodness of our immediate futures, or lack thereof. According to her, the more white lines there are (the mug was white on the bottom), the more happiness is ahead of you.

The informant learned this from her surroundings, just by growing up in the culture of Turkey. She enjoys sharing it because it is something unique to her culture.