I may be a bit behind the times here (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I’ve just discovered the Suspended Coffee Campaign. Born of an Italian tradition, the ‘caffe sospreso’ is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began a century ago, in the working class cafes of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but consuming only one. The remaining coffee would remain suspended for a poor person to claim later.
This heart-warming practice has been championed successfully on social media, igniting social consciences globally and subsequently being adopted by communities around the world. Suspended coffees represent an affirmation of the old English adage ‘Charity begins at home’ – supporting the ‘down on their luck’ people within your local community.
So far, about 150 British cafes have signed up to what has become a formal scheme, with coffee giant Starbucks recently signing up for the initiative. Ian Cranna, vice-president of marketing at Starbucks UK told Marketing Magazine the campaign “will provide warmth and comfort for those looking for food or a hot cup of coffee.”
The only problem I can foresee is that of the target audience (vulnerable people) feeling ashamed to pop in and ask for the off-chance of charity. Some cafes across the UK have pre-empted this barrier, adopting the initiative in different forms, with some donating cash equivalents to local homeless shelters or providing tokens to be discreetly donated to those in need.
On a (frivolously) political note, if this is an example of what the EU brings us, who can knock it?