Monday, 6 May 2013

Suspended coffee

We've all read the Facebook post about buying a suspended coffee for a person in need. Whether or not it is legitimate is not the point; the do-good intentions of the act make us feel all warm and fuzzy as we imagine a 'free' coffee making someone's day. As a coffee lover, I know that a bad day can turn into a good one (or at least a tolerable one) with the help of a single good cup of coffee to savour and enjoy. Who wouldn't want to spread those joy germs around?

Apparently caffè sospeso originated in Naples, where you are guaranteed to find a plethora of characters begging on the streets in the cafe and restaurant quarters. One night in Napoli, I watched a man work his craft. His handmade sign said "Ho fame" ("I'm hungry") and he was kneeling on a strip of cardboard. During the course of my meal, people continually stopped to give him money - so much so that he was quickly sorting coins into different pockets as soon as the donor had walked away; euros on one side, cents on the other. People also gave him food: burgers and panini ... even restaurateurs came out from several different places with bags of leftovers. These were quickly hidden out of sight behind him and the kneeling resumed. Now, I had/have absolutely no idea of his circumstances, and he was in no way the only one out on the street that night, but I certainly noted the generosity of the Napolitani people during one short hour.

I read this morning that Wellington, the coffee capital, is now warming to suspended coffee. I'm not surprised to see that People's Coffee in Newtown has got the ball rolling and that Flight Coffee are also interested. I expect Caffe L'Affare won't be too far behind, either. Their anti-surcharge on public holidays is a great show of charity support.

Would you buy a suspended coffee for someone? I've done it a couple of times for Random Acts of Kindness Day on 1 September. I have no idea who the recipients were (and sincerely hope that it made someone's day) but, admittedly, this is just once a year. If suspended coffees do become part of our coffee culture, I hope there will still be momentum for it in a few months' time after the initial novelty has worn off.

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