It’s not often that you find a topic that doesn’t have Wikipedia entry and Suspended Coffee is one of those terms. It’s called Caffe Sospeso in Italian and is a movement that supposedly started in Naples, Italy.
The description in Wikipedia says:
A tradition in the cafés of Naples is to order a caffè sospeso – literally, a coffee “in suspense” (aka. caffè pagato, or “paid coffee”) – as a sign of your good fortune. When a sospeso is ordered, the customer pays for two coffees, but only receives one. That way, when a person who is homeless or otherwise down on their luck walks into the café, the person can ask if there are any coffees held in suspense, and can have one as a courtesy of the first customer. Though the custom has been a part of Neapolitan society for many years, it is somewhat less common today.
A recent story on Raw Story said that this trend has really taken hold in Bulgaria, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Over 150 coffee shops have signed up to do this and they have a very active Facebook page posting pictures of coffee receipts and updates about new shops and retailers joining the movement.
Bulgaria has suffered from a lot of poverty driven unrest recently and they have had weeks of street protests. Several fast food places and grocery shops have joined this initiative too.
Since the story has been doing the rounds on Facebook and elsewhere, the cynics have been out in force saying that this will just encourage scroungers to take advantage of the kindness of strangers. I think the main point is that one person makes a small contribution, it may help someone and in turn, this might have a ripple effect in society. The butterfly effect in action.
I feel a sense of helplessness when read see stories like this and I guess all I can my bit by paying it forward.
If you think it’s a good idea to get some coffee shops and cafes in London to practice this too, please tweet and share this story.