Hey foodie, how you doing? Before you answer this, let me assure you that after reading this post you will be doing very fine and will feel a bit enlightened. This Suspended Coffee concept was on my mind since a long time. It would have been nicer of me if I would have published this a week ago on the eve of World’s Coffee day, which falls on 1st of October. A friend of mine complained that how much disservice I am doing to coffee lovers out there. So here I am, a week late but with a post worth the wait.
Few years ago you must have come across a post on either Facebook or WhatsApp titled ‘Suspended Coffee’. Where a person goes to a coffee shop and observes people ordering extra coffees than they require, then taking only what is required and leaving after paying for the entire order. Only to see that someone in need asking humbly if there is any Suspended Coffee available, to which the coffee shops do check and give away the suspended coffee which was already paid in advance by someone else. This heart melting story went viral.
If you remember then I am glad, because too many such sweet posts cross your screen on regular basis that you tend to forget quickly. So this Suspended Coffee is a concept which was revised in 2011 in Naples, Italy. After small Italian towns started this movement in solidarity after the government announced cultural budget cuts. In December 2011, Neapolitan authorities declared an annual “Suspended Coffee Day” marking an official date for this movement. But in reality this movement is very old which was practiced and was lost in the post war economic boom as quoted on the Wikipedia page.
Short Story on Suspended Coffee
It was a bright sunny day in the seaport and market town of King’s Lynn. ‘The Coffee Shop @ Goddards’ started their operations for the day. Harry a 30 something guy walked in the coffee shop at 10:30 and placed an order of an espresso. He was on call with someone who was about to meet him at this place. He placed the order and sat in a corner waiting for that person.
10 minutes later, a 22 year young student entered the place and very awkwardly asked the person on the counter “Any suspended coffee available?” The counter guy glanced at this boy in surprise then checked the balance and said “Yes, we have two available.” The student took the coffee and seeming a little embarrassed he went outside the shop.
Harry was watching all this happen and out of curiosity he went out to meet that boy outside. Harry knew the concept, the only doubt he had was ‘why a well-dressed young guy asked for a suspended coffee?’ He approached the boy who was holding the coffee cup with both his hands curled around. Harry said “Hey young man, this is Harry Anderson. What is your name?” The boy replied with a smile “I am Oliver Jones.” Harry said casually “Why you came out with the coffee? It is too sunny out here, and you could have had it inside.”
Oliver almost whispered in low tone “It is not for me, but for a homeless man on the street who asked me to get it for him and I don’t know where he went.” “There he is.” He saw the old man approaching, he handed the coffee to this old man and said “Have a nice day sir”. The old man replied “Many thanks young lad.” and he left.
Harry was left speechless by this incident. He offered Oliver to join him for a cup of coffee. Oliver obliged and they both went inside. Sat on the same table. “So are you going to explain me why all this happened?” Oliver sat relaxed and responded “This whole system is flawed.” “Generosity is out for the offering but what about the social stigma attached?” Harry was listening attentively but was still confused. “Can you please simplify it for me Oliver? I am 9-5 office goer who is aloof from most of the recent developments in the social stratosphere” Harry added in a jest.
Oliver’s coffee came on the table, he had a sip of this refreshing suspended coffee and rolled his eyes in pure bliss. Harry was waiting for an answer. Oliver noticed him and said on a lighter note “First of all thanks for this suspended coffee, which you sponsored for me.” He kept his coffee cup on the table and continued in what seemed to be a monologue to Harry.
This concept of Suspended coffee was to help the poor and less privileged people to afford a cup of coffee without losing their dignity. The intent is no wonder a good one, but it has its own flaws. The people out there who really need this suspended coffee are not the ones who have a pleasing appearance. They always seem to be in rags and shabby clothes. This makes them hesitant to approach any café and ask for a suspended coffee. Because they feel they will be considered as nuisance to these classic places that are intending to help them.
So this is the reason that old guy approached me as he was uncomfortable to come inside and ask on his own. Maybe this is the social stigma that still comes with these generous offerings under noble deeds. Harry was stunned at this explanation. He was well aware of this suspended coffee movement and even forwarded that viral story to his friends a few years ago. But never ever he thought that this could be an angle to ponder upon.“If Suspended Coffee can touch lives in meaningful ways then imagine what other suspended stuffs can do…Joy of Giving changes your life for Good…” Click To Tweet
“I am speechless, never in my wildest dream had I thought on this.” Harry admitted this in embarrassment. “This mean there must be many people out there who must be facing the same issue.” Oliver nodded “Yes plenty, this isn’t my first time of doing this.” Harry’s mind was now running at rapid pace this was something which made him think hard. He asked, “But how can we fix this? Is this really in our control?” He started putting forward random suggestions.
“Can we have Suspended coffee cards which people can buy upfront? And later donate it to someone who they think is in the need of it?” Harry asked Oliver. Oliver raised his hand and said “They have one such shop in Melbourne, where you can buy subscription card for suspended coffees and hand it to the people in need who can claim the free coffees whenever they want.” Harry was listening patiently and was happy to hear something like this.
“Do you have any more insights Oliver?” Harry asked again after glancing at the shop’s door, the person whom he was about to meet was yet to show up. Oliver said, “There are many things that can be done and to start in a best way is to start with educating the person next to you.” “If you allow me I will state what I think needs to be done.”
The subscription card is one great idea. The next thing is carry out a drive in all possible cafés to introduce this movement. Maybe not only for suspended coffee, but for suspended meals too. The poor and homeless need free meals more than coffees. So anything suspended should be more than welcome. This will really be a great movement.
“But don’t you think too much of this act can lead to false impersonators taking undue advantage?” Harry asked slowly. Oliver said “Yes it is a possibility, but every good thing has a flaw but that should not discourage us from doing that one good thing.” “Let me continue I will tell you how this can be addressed.”
Going by someone’s sole appearance won’t help out, you never know a well-dressed person must have lost his job recently and is tight on budget. A well-dressed lady who can be a single mother of 3 who can’t afford this luxury. These people can’t be judged just because they asked for a suspended coffee. You never know who is going through what. So a suggestion their online website should accept applications. A kind of application where a well to do person can nominate a person who is in trouble. Because if self-submission is allowed then many fake people will use this in a wrong way.
Thus a testimonial from a trusted source can be considered legitimate. Thus this list of potential people in dire need of help is available to the world. Now the generous samaritans can see the data and choose to pay all the suspended stuff for them. For example, someone can buy a week’s groceries, or a coffee subscription and so on. If what I am saying is making sense and is feasible then this will solve a major problem. And above all trust and transparency is paramount for the success of this movement.
“But the social stigma for homeless and poor will still be there and these people are hard to trace.” Harry emphasized on a big challenge at hand. He carried on “So maybe these people should be told which places to visit, as the places offering suspended services can assign board at the front and back door. The hesitant ones can approach from the back door.” Oliver was glad that Harry was able to suggest few developments.
“Such a brilliant idea Oliver, you are a genius.” Harry was so impressed by this young lad. He was smiling brightly as if the solutions have been implemented. Oliver asked him “Hey, Harry not a big deal, but this is all in my thoughts and your mind, I don’t know how this will work out.” Harry responded “Where there’s a will there’s a way, let me go to their official website and send them a mail regarding this suggestion, I will keep you in the loop.”
By this time both of them finished their coffees. As the person who was about to meet Harry cancelled the meeting Harry had no other option but to leave. Harry went to the counter and paid for 3 suspended coffees and asked the owner of the café if their ideas made sense. The owner was open to these ideas and agreed to be a part of it. They parted ways after shaking hands and exchanging their contacts. But he was very glad that he met Oliver and had a very emotionally engaging day.
This wonderful concept, is spread across 20 countries and thousands of coffee shops. The noble intentions are quite evident. Just what makes me cautious is, because of few bad social elements this concept should not stop or be ignored. Or per say, if you come across one such bad experience you should not start ignoring the higher purpose. Which is to help someone in need.
Suspended coffee culture is a simple thing which broke out with this humble movement. What as a person we can do is, if you see someone who is less privileged then go to that person and at least feed him something! Because chances are rare that in developing countries the less privileged will have the courage to enter such places which are offering suspended coffees or suspended meals due to the social stigma. Plus they won’t be aware of any such thing because these are the people who do not have phones to access social media or news.
So as simply as it can be done, help someone in need if you feel from your gut that this person is in real need. Do not go by appearances, the appearances might be deceiving at times. Educate at least one person you know about this suspended coffee concept and ensure that they apply it in whatever way possible. Any kind of suspended generosity is welcome.
Let me know what you think of this concept. I must say, a lot can happen over a coffee. A movement based on coffee went viral and it is spreading slowly into the world. Giving everyone a hope that all has not ended. Good things are still out there and we should take a responsibility to keep it flowing.
With this your foodie_khiladi signs of for the day. With a hope that you liked this concept based post. I hope you will share with your friend circles. If you are here for the first time I do write such decent posts and you can check all of them here on this link. See you soon in my next post, till then take care and keep smiling. For any queries and complaints you can either mail me on [email protected] or send me a DM on foodie_khiladi007.