We all have heard about “waiting customers”, but did you ever hear about a “waiting coffee”? Well, it actually exists already for many years. The “waiting coffee” («suspended coffee» is the term in English and «caffé sospeso» in Italian) is a prepaid coffee by a customer in a coffee shop or a cafeteria, anonymously, and will be consumed afterwards by a citizen who cannot afford to pay himself.
The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where somebody who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso: this means paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person could enquire later whether there was a sospeso available and was served a coffee for free. Coffee shops in other countries have adopted the sospeso to increase sales, and to promote kindness and caring in all communities.
John Sweeney, of Ireland, launched a social movement called Suspended Coffees in March 2013, as well as a website dedicated to encouraging businesses around the world to join and support the tradition of a cafe sospeso. In March 2015, Mr. Sweeney gave a TEDx talk on Suspended Coffees and why kindness matters.
With the Greek economic and social crisis deepening every day, the need for the implementation of this idea is also growing in Greece.
Have a look at this wonderful video, and you will be convinced easily! At the same time, you are offered a great listening exercise in Greek, with English subtitles. (If you would like “to read ” the Greek dialogue as well, click here)
In the meantime, this concept was even extended and it is now also possible to buy “a suspended bread at a bakery” or “a suspended meal in a tavern”. There are thousands of families and millions of unemployed where also a loaf of bread can make their day a bit easier.
So next time you are visiting Greece, you could practice your Greek, order a coffee, as well as a suspended coffee. An ideal way to feel nice, help the poor, speak Greek and make some more friends.
You can click on this list to check the participating shops and cafes in various locations in Greece.