Sema Bal calls herself a Turkish Coffee Messenger. She practices the centuries-old Turkish tradition of divining her clients’ fortunes through Turkish coffee grounds. After sipping the brew down, clients place the saucer over the top of the cup, close their eyes and flip the cup over. That’s when Bal interprets the grounds.
Bal grew up in Australia, but it was in her home country of Turkey where she first began to encounter her gifts. “As a child, I was too young to read, but I could see things,” she said.
Bal’s gift runs in her family. According to Bal, her mother was a reader and healer. Now, she continues on the family tradition with her own business, based out of her home in Queens, New York.
“I’ll let the cup talk to me and I pass it, like, take over me,” she said.
When Bal gives a healing message to her clients, she describes it as a blessing. “It’s like seeing a child that hasn’t seen someone they really wanted to see,” she said.
But according to Bal, it’s not always easy to pass along some messages to her clients.
“There’s the sad parts, too, like you feel someone’s sick, someone who might be dying, but we can’t say it,” Bal said. “Who am I to tell you? If I come and tell you someone’s going to pass over, how would you feel? And why would I do that? And I could be wrong. We do get it wrong too, sometimes.”
Bal understands that her profession comes with a large amount of skepticism, but she urges her clients to have an open mind. “If they don’t want to believe it, that’s fine, I respect them. Do you blame them? How could coffee tell you things? You have to give me a chance. Nothing impossible, is it?”