Kafe As Poume; Gifts, Identity and Coffee

In Cyprus, traditionally, when you order a coffee or at the end of a meal you will be presented with a δωράκι (doraki) or κέρασμα (kerasma), a little gift. The doraki may take the shape of a small cookie on your coffee saucer, or a spoon sweet, cake or glass of Zivania once you have finished dinner. You did not order this, nor do you pay for it. This doraki is a gift to you.

Manifesting through an amusement with the Greek phrase ‘as poume’ (let’s say), and it’s versatility of expression, Kafé as poúme, is more and more a form of experimentation to navigate movement, belonging and identity. Kafe as poume is a third space, a middle ground, among and in-between two cultures, two islands, which simultaneously include and exclude. I have a typically Cypriot name, and am often forced to justify it. In Cyprus, border police once tried to deny me entry, purely on the basis that an Eleni Christou does not sound, look, act like me and my passport must be fake. In Australia, my name inspires an unwelcome guessing game, with strangers assuming Brazilian to Lebanese – never satisfied with the answer of ‘from here’.

Nonetheless, being of mixed ancestry is the best thing about me that I didn’t have to work for, a doraki, a gift to me, and Kafe As Poume is a product of the best parts my cultures. From the 6th – 9th September, Kafe as poume is setting up in the Ashfield Civic Centre foyer. I will be serving complimentary Cypriot coffee, Quince Spoon Sweets and herbal tea. That is my gift to you.

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