“Suspended coffee”, the Italian tradition of buying an extra coffee at the bar for a future guest down on their luck, is gaining popularity in places like Bulgaria, Moscow, and now Facebook. The Facebook page “Suspended Coffees” has over 30,000 Facebook likes and shares, and apparently people all around the world are asking their local coffee shops to start offering the service.
One small business owner in the UK took to the blogs to voice her disappointment with the movement, citing ten reasons she feels it's a bad idea:
“I believe most people in coffee shops will give a coffee and a bite to eat, to a homeless person, without such a scheme being in place. We certainly do! Didn't really want to shout about that as I don't want the rest of you dressing up as you think a homeless person might look. Plenty of independents and chains do the same.”
“I was homeless for a while, right down at the bottom of the pile….I was lucky enough to be put into disgustingly horrible temporary accommodation…I know, as many of us know that these people are not scum of the earth, to be sneered at, we know any homeless person could be our brother, our mother, our father our sister our son our daughter, or ourselves. These are vulnerable times and we are all close to the edge….”
“If you truly want to support these individuals, either ask what coffee they would like, and take it to them,.or make sure you visit your independent coffee store more regularly, in the knowledge that most of them would give out coffees upon request and at discretion to homeless people….and that by ensuring these coffee shops are running at a profit because you love them, they will naturally share back the love to the community without shouting about it! Book an appointment with yourself and 9 friends, to meet in your local indepdent coffee shop, buy them all coffees, introduce them to a great business, help the business to thrive, so they can keep trickling down the love and support that you have given, into their community.”
The Consumerist had this to say about the movement:
If you own a coffee shop or restaurant and want to start this program, that’s great. More power to you. Some people, notably in Sheffield, England, are putting a lot of thought into ways that this could work.
What you don’t need to do, though, is pester the owner of your favorite coffee shop to participate. If they have Internet access, or they happen to have a particularly chatty tweenaged niece, they already know. They’ll do it if they want to. Or maybe they’re too busy running yesterday’s bagels to a day shelter.
What do you think? Do you want your local cafe to start a “Suspended Coffee” program, or would you sooner see the movement go away? Is this the sort of thing best left to the Old World neighborhood espresso bar, or could it work in the chic palaces of coffee's third wave? Sound off in the comments below!