What is Suspended Coffee?
Author: Rob Date Posted:7 October 2013
Have you ever heard of suspended coffee? Is it some sort of arcane method of making coffee by suspending it in a cup or from the rafters?
Suspended coffee went from being a little known regional custom to a global movement thanks to social media sharing. The story that got the ball rolling goes something like this:
Two people entered a coffee house. While they waited their turn in line, they overheard a customer in front of them order five coffees, two for them and three “suspended.”
“What’s that mean?” one eavesdropper asked his friend. His friend just smiled and said, “You’ll see.” As it turned out, the suspended coffees were coffees that were paid for but not served until someone who could not afford to pay for their coffee came in and ordered one. A coffee would be made for them just as it was for any other customer, but without charge.
Suspended coffee became a metaphor for altruistic behaviour and word spread like wildfire, but the origins of the term remained shrouded in mystery. Snopes.com, a website devoted to discovering the roots of rumours, discovered that the practice had its origins in Italy. “Caffe suspedo” can be translated as suspended coffee, but suspedo also translates as “pending”, which makes more sense in English. Snopes cited a travel blog for clarifying the issue.
According to a 2011 blog in Lost and Found, while visiting Naples, the blogger overheard an elderly man order a “caffe sospeso.” Intrigued, he asked the man at the cash register what the customer had meant by that and was told that following WWII, many Italians were so poor they couldn’t even afford to buy a coffee. Coffee being a “hot liquid pleasure not considered a treat, but rather a basic human right in the life of any Neapolitan”, those who could afford to enjoy a coffee felt it was their duty to give the less fortunate an opportunity to enjoy it, too, so they purchased one for themselves and paid for another with the understanding that it would be served free of charge to the first person who came in who could not afford to buy coffee.
Suspended coffee has gone from being a social media phenomenon to a global movement. A WordPress blog, Suspended Coffees, says in their Mission Statement: “Every once in a while an idea comes along with the potential to truly make the world a better place. Suspended Coffee is one of those ideas.” Their mission is to spread the word about suspended coffee and expand the concept to include food and other essentials. To encourage businesses to adopt “suspended” policies, they include lists of participating cafés in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
We think suspended coffee is a brilliant idea and were thrilled to discover that hundreds of cafes throughout Australia are participating in the movement. Check out the Participating Cafes -- Australia page on Suspended Coffees and find one in your area or be sure to call in at one when you’re on holidays or a business trip and away from your Lavazza espresso machine.