Suspended coffee: what a wonderful idea

Customers pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can’t afford one - it's a simple concept which should be introduced to coffee shops in the UK

Share
Related Topics

This unseasonal cold snap is enough to make anyone reach for a hot chocolate.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to get our numb hands on one. Coffee outlets litter our streets – in fact, rumour has it you’re only ever 10 feet away from a Starbucks in London. Or is that a rat? I get confused.

But as chilly students layer on thermals and commuters wait on freezing platforms for delayed trains, I ask you to spare a thought for the homeless. Sometimes a hot beverage is beyond their reach, the pennies collected in an empty cup not quite stretching far enough.

Public opinion on giving money to the homeless is divided. Some refuse to toss a few pennies into their pots for fear it will be spent on alcohol and cigarettes. Others disagree and give as generously as their purses allow. Once I even saw a woman present a shivering man with a sandwich and a packet of crisps.

Enter the ‘suspended coffee’, a humble tradition which started in Naples, Italy and has since become popular in Bulgaria. Customers pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can’t afford one. It’s a simple concept which has been embraced by many and now people are clamouring for UK coffee shops to introduce the scheme.

The suspended coffee accentuates the very best of human nature. I discovered the idea on Facebook, as I walked to work on a bitterly cold Wednesday morning, and my mood lifted immediately. I imagined a busy shopper or rushed commuter stopping and donating a warm drink or sandwich to someone less fortunate than themselves and realised it was something we needed to introduce in the UK.

But is it something us Brits would embrace? Or are we too embroiled in our own financial worries?

I put the question out to my Facebook friends (mainly skint students or slightly less skint graduates) and received a mixed response.

My housemate, a student, said she wouldn’t buy a suspended coffee at the moment, but it was something she’d like to think she would do if she had a job. One kindly soul told me she’d bought a cappuccino for a homeless person before, but welcomed the initiative as it was an easier, less awkward, way to do it. Someone else told of bad experiences with people asking him for money to ‘buy a hot drink’, however he liked the idea of ‘earmarking’ the money to make sure it went towards something beneficial, like a drink or a sandwich.

One friend simply rejected the idea, pronouncing it ‘socialist claptrap’.

Costa Coffee’s Facebook page is covered with requests imploring the company to consider the initiative. One plucky user even challenged the company to match their patrons’ kindness by contributing one suspended coffee for every one donated by a customer.

After all, it costs the branches nothing but good will. A number of people even claimed they would buy more coffee if it meant they could do a good deed each time.

I contacted Costa to ask whether they would be introducing the idea. 

A spokesperson said: “The suspended coffee initiative is a really nice idea. We always welcome feedback from our customers, so we have taken on board all the comments and have passed them on to our operational team to review.”

A predictably flaky response from a press officer, but the right sentiment is there. Pret a Manger have posted a similar reply on their Facebook page, while a spokeperson for Starbucks said: “We think that Suspended Coffee is a really interesting campaign and we’re looking into it."

Would I buy a suspended coffee? I’m not sure I have the money make it a regular occurrence, but I imagine I could donate a coffee every now and again, when my budget allowed. Maybe I’d factor in a couple of suspended coffees into my monthly budget.

Best of all, the scheme means anyone who’s sniffy about where their money ends up after it lands in the paper cup can rest assured it will go towards something positive. It’s difficult to make a case against that. Mr and Mrs Snotty who won’t give money to a man on the street, in case he buys cigarettes, can’t justify not buying him a coffee. And I like that. I really like that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Supply Teachers needed in Stowmarket

£1034496 - £1516224 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The Job:Randstad ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week