9.13.2013

What is 'Suspended' Coffee?


You may have seen it spread on Twitter or Facebook and wondered what it was and if it really existed;  "Suspended" Coffee.  I first saw it on Twitter and it goes something like this;


We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order.
While we're approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:
Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended.
They pay for their order, take the two and leave.
I ask my friend: What are those 'suspended' coffees?
Wait for it and you will see...

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go.
The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers:
three for them and four 'suspended'.

While I still wonder what's the deal with those 'suspended' coffees,
I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards
the square in front of the cafe.
Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks
like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks:
Do you have a suspended coffee?

It's simple... people pay in advance for a coffee meant for
someone who cannot afford a warm beverage.
It is generally an anonymous act of charity.
Officially, that picture has nothing to do with suspended coffee, but it looked good so someone, somewhere used it with the story and well, it's starting to spread like wildfire.

But is it true?

Yes.  Kind of.  Sort of.  But not so much in the USA.
Yet.
But I bet it will.

From Wikipedia;
A caffè sospeso (Italian: suspended coffee) is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free. Coffee shops in other countries have adopted the sospeso to increase sales.

Although it originated in Europe, a few news articles I researched this morning said that various reporters had visited various coffee houses to see if this was true and many said they hadn't had anyone purchase 'suspended' coffees in 15 years or so.

However, with the internet's help I can almost guarantee this is now going to be catching on (again) only possibly, in an even bigger way.

People love to help, like to give, want to make a difference but many have no idea how, don't have a lot of money or just aren't sure what or where it's needed.  How EASY it is to pre-pay for a drink or a sandwich and allow it to be given to someone later who needs it?

Well, it is easy...  if the vendor has some way of suspending the sale, keeping track... and is honest enough to give it away again when requested.  This act of charity depends not only on the giver, but on the honesty and accommodation of the coffee house.

Starbucks Sort Of Implements Suspended Coffee, Donates Food And Drink To Nonprofit

You can find a few websites and blogs helping to spread the word (like this one; SuspendedCoffeess) but right now it's hit or miss whether or not you find one actively participating.  Remember... the less fortunate person also has to know it exists in order to enter an establishment to inquire if there are any 'suspended coffee's' available.

This easy yet 'doable' idea of free coffee depends solely on word being spread and coffee shops actively participating.  But with generous hearts of Americans coupled with social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, I don't think that will be a problem.  And if you don't know of a participating coffee shop, you can always do it the old fashioned way.  Simply buy an extra coffee and give it away or purchase a gift card and hand out the gift cards to those less fortunate who could use a hot drink or hot meal.