Suspended Coffees: A Penny For Your Thoughts

Suspended Coffees: A Penny For Your Thoughts

“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!

  1. deb dolen

    26 December

    Hello friends, nice article and nice urging commented here, I am
    truly enjoying by these.

  2. Sam Clark

    2 April

    I think the program should be situational. One of my coffee shops is within 3 blocks of three different halfway houses. While often times most of the folks who utilize these services(and they are very important services) are absolutely harmless and just doing what they can to get back on their feet.

    Sometimes however, it can negate the safety of your employees to utilize this idea. It is not uncommon to see a halfway house member quickly re-allocate themselves to a gang. This may not be the safest way to welcome them to your neighborhood. While these members of society may appear transient, they do in fact have homes and could quickly and not unforseeably bypass this system to take advantage of it and your employees! It is important to remember that as a coffee shop owner, you are responsible for three tiers of safety and health. Yours, your employees, and your customers while they are on your premise.

    Where as in some area’s transience is a part of society which is unavoidable and for the most part is a harmless, but sad attribute. There are areas where this may indeed be a very grand and noble gesture. I worked at a YMCA with a temporary housing was available. A lot of folks there were just trying to get on their feet in the middle of a recession. I gave away countless amount of cups of coffee at the expense of my tip jar. The payback was when you saw them come in at the end of your shift smiling because they landed a job finally and their day started off awesome because of your cup of coffee.

    One should remember that you assume the role of a helper when you institute a program like this. It is going to have to be at your discretion what goes and what does not go. Could that two buck joe be better suited going to a women’s shelter, or perhaps your local food bank? There are systems in place that we can work with as food/beverage/hospitality that can strengthen our bonds with the community.

    I have had this conversation with several folks to date. The other one which I will leave open is this “Does generosity require a middle man?”

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