Suspended Coffee

Text: Kaycie Gayle

An addition to what you can order to some selected local cafes have become in demand. Aside from, latte, macchiato, cappuccino, espresso, and americano now you can also order caffè sospeso, which is an Italian word which means suspended coffee. It is also called as “Coffee on Hold” or “Pending Coffee”. More countries are now embracing this concept of “paying it forward” through a cup of coffee after it went viral some time. Hence, sharing this act of kindness to those who are not yet aware of this simple gesture is a good thing. It is heartwarming, inspiring and mood-lifting, by just thinking that someone else has thought about other people and cared enough to buy someone in need a warm drink.

photo1jpgCafe’s counter

The concept of Suspended coffee is inspired by a humble tradition that dates some 100 years back to the working-class cafes of Naples, particularly at Gran Cafe Gambrinus sometime in 1860. It is a custom wherein cafe patron who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso and pay in for additional cups of coffee beyond their own. They are paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one cup. While the other that is paid in advance will be reserved and offered free of charge to someone without the means to buy their own warm beverage. However, the suspended coffee tradition died off after World War II but had a revival across Italy in 2011 upon the introduction of official “Suspended Coffee Day” celebrated every December by the Neapolitan authorities. This concept has been circulating from the internet for years and has even been popularized through its social media awareness campaign when John Sweeney, a plumber from Ireland decided to make it his mission to help spread the movement and started a Facebook page called Suspended Coffees. Hence, due to social networks, the simple concept is embraced by many and people are hoping for coffee shops to introduce the scheme and other cafés from different countries have signed up to the goodwill initiative.

gran-caffe-gambrinusInside Gran Cafe Gambrinus

Donated coffee is aimed certainly to a wider circle of people, it is not just an idea for the homeless but also extended to comfort those who are facing financial difficulties, like those who are out of work or to senior citizens on poverty-level pensions. Hence since the suspended coffee tradition believes that everybody matters and deserves to be cared about the cafe patrons can be friends with homeless or poor person in the neighborhood may there be or no coffee ‘on hold’. It somehow provides physical comfort, conversation, a smile or even a laugh, and a sense of belonging. Over time, when the people who are in need realize that the cafe staff and patrons treat them exactly as they do on any other customer, they relax and open up. Ergo, it instigates confidence among these people and eventually somehow can change lives, or sometimes even save them. Meanwhile, the cafe patrons who join to support this tradition views it as a nice, hot cup of goodwill that is an unconditional act of kindness. Knowing that someone in need gets the banked coffee they reserved gives them the warm feeling inside. This is also one of the best alternative options for hesitant givers of money but wants to really help. Also since caffè sospeso is an anonymous act of charity it is good for people who want to help but want to stay unnamed. It is an easier, less awkward and like saying, ‘here is a suspended coffee, from us to you,’ but done in a discreet way.

caffe-sospeso-napoliAn old man comforted with a hot drink

Moreover, this act of kindness is also good for businesses owners since coffee shops in other countries who have adopted the cafe sospeso increased in sales and is receiving a good image for their social responsibility of promoting kindness and caring. Apparently, even a well-meaning act of kindness has its share of critics and there is some skepticism like with some saying that business owners could take advantage of the concept and just see this tradition as an income generating means instead of charity. Also, if cafes would really want to help, even without suspended coffee vouchers purchased by cafe patrons would take the initiative to help the needy. Regardless of the controversies, the development in Suspended Coffee Movement has evolved. More cafés around the world are inspired to join this tradition and people supported this sharing goodwill and compassion every day. As more businesses joined the effort the scheme is not restricted to coffee either. In some places, you can order not only a suspended coffee but instead has expanded the range of goods and services to cover and offer to people. It can be seen in fast-food establishments, bakeries, patisseries, pharmacies and even hair salon given to people who couldn’t afford such an expense.

This coffee tradition accentuates the very best of human nature. It restores hope that people still have a compassion and a heart for goodwill. It is a way to connect people and support the local community. Therefore, it shows the interaction that it is based on good faith among the store, cafe patrons, and the recipients. Whereas, the cafe patrons trust on the participating business entities that the coffee will be indeed given to needy people, while both the giver and mediator which is the participating store trust the receiver that he is legitimately in need and not taking advantage of the privilege, while the participating cafes and the recipients trust that the cafe patrons will have the heart to share. Hence, anyone can enter the café and ask for a ‘suspended coffee’, may they be buying or claiming it. It is unlikely that they will be asked for credentials since it is a tradition not meant to make judgments but just is based on a heart for charity and kindness.

IMG_20180813_083058Gran Cafe Gambrino cup of hot drink

Could you warm somebody’s heart? Join the journey even with one cup of kindness at a time. Find a participating suspended coffee shop near you or to find out how you can get further involved, visit the Suspended Coffee website or Suspended Coffee Facebook page.

This act of kindness reflects the golden rule “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them”, Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)

If you like this heartwarming story please SHARE this act of kindness, and spread the word with your friends and family.

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