Suspended Coffee

I read today about “Suspended Coffee” and thought I’d pass it along. As usual, it’s a practice that has been going on for decades (at least) and I’m just finding out about it.

Each day, I check the What’s New” section of the Snopes website and saw an article talking about Suspended Coffee. My first thought was that it must be a way of brewing coffee – you know, like leaving the grounds “suspended” in the boiling water (like tea) instead of running water or steam through the grounds. I was wrong. It’s a very nice tradition that apparently started in Italy after World War II.

After the war, many people had lost everything. Most people didn’t have much but some people still had enough to enjoy a cup of coffee. They saw people who couldn’t even afford that. So, in the city of Naples, a few people who had the means would buy a cup of coffee for themselves and then pay for another cup and tell the owner it was a suspended coffee. They called it “caffe sospeso” (suspended coffee or pending coffee). Later, if someone came into the shop who didn’t look like they could afford a cup of coffee, the owner would ask them if they’d like a cup. This was a nice way of telling them that a cup of coffee had already been bought for them. By staying anonymous, the buyer didn’t embarrass the person who got the free coffee and there was no worry about the receiver of the gift needing to reciprocate.

No one seems quite sure how it got started. Why would people who couldn’t afford a cup of coffee come into the cafe in the first place? How would the people who paid for two coffees know that someone might come in later to claim it? I don’t know either but somebody started it. Perhaps it was a marketing scheme. The cafe owner would look like a nice guy if he spread the word that he would offer that service. I prefer to think that kind people suggested it – remembering the words of Jesus:

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” Luke 14: 12-14 NLT

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One thought on “Suspended Coffee

  1. Pingback: Actions Speak Louder than Words | The Meenister's Log

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