Caffè sospeso

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A caffè sospeso (pronounced [kafˈfɛ soˈspeːzo]; Italian for "suspended coffee") or pending coffee is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free.[1][2] 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. [3] Mr. Sweeney has been featured in numerous publications from around the world, for his efforts in bringing kindness to the forefront. The movement has a following of over a quarter of a million people on social media. In March 2015, Mr. Sweeney gave a TEDx talk on Suspended Coffees and why kindness matters.


One 2010 account claims the tradition was over 100 years old, but declined during the postwar economic boom, so that it is mainly observed around Christmas time.[4] A 2008 article reported the tradition was obsolescent, the reporter having visited three bars where it had not been observed for at least 15 years.[5] Aurelio De Laurentiis is reported to pay for ten sospesi after each victory by S.S.C. Napoli, the football club of which he is chairman.[6]

The sospeso gave the title to a 2008 journalism collection by Neapolitan Luciano De Crescenzo, Il caffe sospeso: Saggezza quotidiana in piccoli sorsi, which helped publicise the tradition throughout Italy.[2][7] The idea has been reported in cafés in Bulgaria,[8] Ukraine,[2] Australia,[1] Canada,[9] Romania,[10] Russia,[11] Spain,[12] Argentina,[13] the United States,[14] and Costa Rica.[15] A Dutch campaign at Christmas 2011 gave a discount on the price of the donated coffee.[16]

The UK arm of coffee chain Starbucks signed up for a charity initiative based on the suspended coffee concept in April 2013, in which it said it would match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to the Oasis charity.[17] The growth of the trend in other coffee shops in the UK also received media coverage around the same time.[18]

On 22 July 2013, a Tuesday, an anonymous customer in Edmonton, Canada, North America paid for 500 large coffees at Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons. This started a trend that spread to a total of 30 locations with over 10,000 cups of coffee being paid for by donors.[19]


The caffè sospeso has been identified as a symbol of grassroots social solidarity, prompting its revival in response to the 2008 recession and ensuing eurozone crisis.[4] In 2004, a giornata nazionale del sospeso at Easter was announced by the Ronde della carità charity.[20] In 2011, a Giornata del Caffè Sospeso was scheduled to coincide with Human Rights Day in December.[21] A collection of Italian arts festivals emphasising social solidarity in 2010 came together under the umbrella "Rete del Caffè Sospeso".[22] An Italian fundraising website started by Luca Argentero is called[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dubecki, Larissa (21 April 2009). "Espresso: Coffee goodness". The Age. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  2. ^ a b c Zhuk, Alyona (21 February 2012). "Free coffee, anyone?". The Sofia Echo. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  3. ^ "Suspended Coffees". 
  4. ^ a b Scalzi, Mario (7 April 2010). "Italian Coffee Break part 1 — Paying it Forward in Naples". Access Italy. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  5. ^ W., R. "Caffè sospeso, tradizione "sospesa" a un filo Rischia di scomparire la tazzulella benefica". Corriere del Mezzogiorno Campania (in Italian) (Corriere della Sera). Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  6. ^ Eggleton, Pat (4 May 2010). "Buon Compleanno, Gambrinus". ITALY Magazine. istos srl. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  7. ^ Crescenzo, Luciano De (2010-10-07). Il caffè sospeso (in Italian). Edizioni Mondadori. ISBN 9788852014161. 
  8. ^ Agence France-Presse (25 March 2013). "Bulgarian cafés get an Italian twist". News24. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  9. ^ "Un premier "café en attente" à Québec | Claudette Samson | Société". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  10. ^ "Suspended coffee in Romania". getlokal. 
  11. ^ Faustova, Milena (7 January 2012). "Coffee free of charge". Voice of Russia. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  12. ^ "Cafés Pendientes | ¿Te sumas a la iniciativa del Café Pendiente? #CafesPendientes". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  13. ^ "Cafe Pendiente". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  14. ^ "Portland joins suspended coffee movement". Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  15. ^ "Los ticos aprenden el arte de regalar café sin mirar a quién con el Café Pendiente". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  16. ^ "Caffè Sospeso voor inloophuizen -". AT5 Echt Amsterdams Nieuws (in Dutch). 21 December 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  17. ^ Reynolds, John. "Starbucks joins Suspended Coffee homeless initiative". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  18. ^ "BBC News - Would you buy a 'suspended coffee' for someone in need?". 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  19. ^ Davidson, Janet (2013-08-05). "Are we hard-wired to buy Timmies for hundreds of strangers?". CBC. 
  20. ^ "Oggi giornata nazionale del caffé "sospeso"". Nove da Firenze (in Italian). 12 April 2004. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  21. ^ "La Voce del Corpo di Luca Vullo in tour". (in Italian). 29 November 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  22. ^ "Principi" (in Italian). Rete del Caffè Sospeso. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  23. ^ "1 Caffè" (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  24. ^ Fradelloni, Francesca (23 December 2011). "Una Iena più verde che nera. Intervista a Luca Argentero". Greenews (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-03-28.