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Memories of an iconic Greek cup

Melissa Kaplan Apr 30, 2010

When we found out Greek coffee cup inventor Leslie Buck died this week, we asked Marketplace Morning Report Host Steve Chiotakis to reflect on the news. Chiotakis was raised around his family’s diner business in Gary, Ind. and Birmingham, Ala, and he’s our resource on all things Greek. The coffee cup stirred memories of his grandmother (though as far as coffee’s concerned he’s switched to decaf on the overnight shift):

When I was a kid my grandmother (“Yaya”) would make me Greek coffee. Loaded with caffeine (which explains a lot about my personality today), it was hot, sweet and good. Just amazing stuff.

She would carefully pour it into one of myriad Greek coffee cups we had (and still do). Some of them with designs of windmills from the island of Mykonos, or the Parthenon. I think we had one with Mount Olympus painted on it.

After I was down to the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup, she would tell my fortune. Greek tradition has it when you’re finished with the coffee, you swirl the grounds left on the bottom and turn the cup upside down on a plate. The grounds then make a design on the walls and bottom of the cup. A sort of Rorschach test for elderly Greek people. And she would tell me what she saw. Funny, seems like she would always see money and a leisurely life.

Well, at least the coffee was good.

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