There’s a post on Facebook at the moment that is doing the rounds, and gathering quite a lot of interest, and for a good reason. It recalls a tale of a couple of friends who enter a coffeehouse, and while they are waiting for their drinks, they overhear two people come in who order five coffees, two of which are for them and three suspended. One friend asks the other what does the suspended coffee means and he is told to wait and see.
Some more people enter. They order their coffees each, pay for them and go. The next order is made by three lawyers and is for seven coffees – three for them and four ‘suspended’. The friend has still not explained what these ‘suspended’ coffees are. Then a homeless man walks through the door and asks: ‘Do you have a suspended coffee?’
It’s a wonderful story but best of all, it is actually true. The idea for the suspended coffee scheme originated in Naples, where regular coffee drinkers would place an extra coffee order for someone less fortunate than themselves. But thanks to a social media campaign by John Sweeney, a plumber from Cork, Ireland, it is now spreading globally, and in some establishments you can not only ask for a suspended coffee but a sandwich or even a whole meal.
The idea is simple enough, you buy as many ‘suspended’ coffees as you wish, and they get racked up for anyone who comes in and requests one. It is also not just for the homeless, but people who are generally finding it hard financially, and are going through difficult times. The idea spread from Italy to Bulgaria and now, thanks to the coverage on Facebook and Twitter, many people are asking their local coffee houses if they do indeed support the scheme and offer the chance to buy suspended coffees.
It has become such a success across the world, that even the big names in coffee houses are signing up to the idea, with Starbucks and Costa registering their interest, and so far in the UK, more than 150 British cafes have formally agreed to the premise.
The suspended coffees will be given to the most needy in society, so if you are a well dressed solicitor type from the City, and you’ve simply got no change from a fifty pound note, you might get short shift from the barista.
Sweeney, the 28-year-old plumber from Cork, who orchestrated the Suspended Coffees Facebook page, said he is being inundated with messages.
‘I didn’t go to bed until 4am and was up at 8.15am,’ he said in the Independent on Sunday.
‘It’s not just an idea for the homeless. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been out of work, freezing, and would have loved nothing more than a cup of coffee, but couldn’t afford one.’
There is a ‘Suspended Coffee Supporter’ logo designed especially from the FB page, which shops can display on their doors, and there is also a website in the pipeline and work has started on creating an app for smartphones.
Howling Moose has had a suspended coffee and had this to say on the FB page: ‘as a person who has received the benefit of a Suspended coffee. I will spread the word to all I know. We are helping the people, we are making the difference. The coffee gave me hope; picked me up when I was down and gave me the strength to carry on. if you doubt my words just ask me—but I only ask not to be judged.’
Hettie Clarke, manager at Coffee7, in Forest Gate, east London, praised the idea, saying: ‘We’re not going to make judgements. If you can say, ‘here is a suspended coffee, from us to you,’ you feel like you’re doing good, but it’s not too in your face.’
A Starbucks spokesman said ‘suspended coffee is a really interesting campaign and we’re looking into it’, while other big chains made positive noises on their websites.
For more information check out Facebook and search for suspended coffee.