Brewing Generosity With Coffee: Impact of Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee

Caffè Sospeso or Suspended CoffeeCaffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee. Image Credit: Marta Dzedyshko.

Kindness can come in many forms, and the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. Have you heard about the Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee?

If not, then today, we will learn more about this social solidarity movement in detail, including its history. Sharing a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza may not seem like a big deal, but the message of generosity behind the act is indeed a big deal.

Brewing A Cup Of Kindness: Where Did The Tradition of Caffè Sospeso Emerge?

Not everyone is familiar with the history behind one of the strange yet beautiful Neapolitan traditions.

A Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition dates back to the early 20th century when coffee was offered to carriage drivers in crisis-hit Naples.

Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee
Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee. Image Credit: Anne Roberts.

The practice began in the working class of Italian citizens, where someone would pay the price of two coffees. However, he would receive and consume only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a suspended coffee available would then be served a coffee for free.

Essence of Suspended Coffee: How It Works?

At its core, Suspended Coffee embodies the idea of paying it forward through a simple act of kindness.

The concept is not just about providing a cup of coffee; it symbolizes the broader notion of sharing warmth, nourishment, and solidarity with those who may be experiencing hardships.

Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee
Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee. Image Credit: Anne Roberts.

This practice enables individuals to foster a sense of empathy and interconnectedness. To make someone else’s day or to help someone you have never met is something wholesome that cannot be comprehended by mere words but rather be felt.

So, next time, if you feel like passing kindness forward, then remember this beautiful tradition that started in Naples, Italy.

The process of Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee, is simple. A customer in a café or coffee shop has the option to purchase an additional coffee or beverage, which is then recorded as “suspended.”

The information is typically kept by the establishment. So, when someone in need comes in, they can inquire if there are any suspended items available. They can then receive a warm cup of coffee or tea without any financial burden.

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An Act of Unselfishness?

Suspended Coffee was confined for decades only for the Christmas season but has made a comeback in recent years. The reason for its comeback is rising unemployment and the shutting down of small businesses, leading to more Italians not being able to afford the national beverage – an espresso or a cappuccino.

In times of crisis, “Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee” appeared as a bleak of hope and kindness. So multiple non-governmental organizations, along with the support of Naples’ Mayor Luigi de Magistris, came together to celebrate a day dedicated to this very act of unselfishness.

Every year on December 10, “Suspended Coffee Day” is celebrated, which marks a practice of solidarity and generosity. This heartwarming practice, rooted in community spirit, has gained momentum as people seek meaningful ways to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

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Concerns Regarding The Tradition of Suspended Coffee

Some argue that the practice may inadvertently perpetuate a sense of dependency. Some even argue the genuineness of poverty or homelessness. Additionally, ensuring transparency in the distribution of suspended items and avoiding potential exploitation are ongoing concerns that establishments must navigate.

Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee
Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee. Image Credit: Samer Daboul.

Though these are some genuine concerns, it is a whole different discussion. However, it is crucial to prioritize the movement’s original intent of helping the less fortunate.

The primary focus for individuals, both buyers and sellers, should be to embody the essence of Suspended Coffee – that is, to extend a helping hand to those in need.

Global Spread and Impact of Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee

What started as a local tradition in Naples has now transcended borders and cultures. The practice of suspended coffee has spread to various corners of the globe. Cafés in countries such as Australia, the United States, Canada, and many European nations have embraced the Suspended Coffee culture.

To name a few, the European Union’s poorest country, Bulgaria, has over 150 cafes that have joined the Neapolitan tradition. And in France, several cafes have now put the logo saying ‘cafe en attente,” which translates to “waiting for coffee.” How beautiful is it that?

Coffee shops in many other countries have also adopted the Caffè Sospeso tradition to increase sales and promote kindness and togetherness, as well as empower people and restore faith in humanity.

Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee
Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee. Image Credit: Lisa Fotios.

In Central Naples, it’s the young who have taken up the concept and extended it to pizza. In Naples, there are often dozens of free pizzas bought in advance. It even offers a delivery service bringing the pre-board pizzas to the less well-off or the homeless.

As this heartwarming tradition continues to flourish, it serves as a reminder that a simple gesture can create ripples of positive change. Thus making the world a little warmer, one cup at a time.

Whether through a warm cup of coffee or a shared meal, Caffè Sospeso or Suspended Coffee continues to inspire us to look beyond ourselves and extend a helping hand to those in need.

Although there are many places/people who aren’t aware of this tradition, through this article, we hope to reach the audience who were unaware of the word “Suspended Coffee” and encourage them to embrace this meaningful tradition.

Together, let’s foster a sense of solidarity and embody the warmth of humanity, creating a ripple effect of kindness that transcends borders and brings people together in the spirit of compassion.

Your coffee is waiting!!!

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