Andres O'Hara-Plotnik


Suspended Coffee

On NPR’s food blog, The Salt, Sylvia Poggioli describes a resurgence in the Italian tradition of buying a “suspended coffee” for someone less fortunate:

“It was a beautiful custom,” he recalls. “When a person who had a break of good luck entered a cafe and ordered a cup of coffee, he didn’t pay just for one, but for two cups, allowing someone less fortunate who entered later to have a cup of coffee for free.”

The barista would keep a log, and when someone popped his head in the doorway of the cafe and asked, “Is there anything suspended?” the barista would nod and serve him a cup of coffee … for free.

This tradition, which receded after WWII, has seen a resurgence in Naples, and is catching on in Bulgaria, Spain, and France. I would love to see this practice come to New York. I love my morning coffee, and I would be happy to know that I could leave behind some money for someone else to enjoy a coffee later.

While I can’t speak for cafes overseas, in New York, coffeshops are public spaces. It is a shame that many New York coffeeshops, especially the ones that carry high quality coffee, attract a very homogeneous crowd, who can be all the more isolating with their laptops and headphones. It would be great to see people from all different income levels and walks of life be able to sit down at the same coffeeshop. Maybe they would even talk to one another.


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This entry was posted on April 27, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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