Caffè sospeso

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A caffè sospeso (pronounced [kafˈfɛ ssoˈspeːzo]; 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.[4]


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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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][8] The idea has been reported in cafés in Bulgaria,[9] Ukraine,[2] Australia,[1] Canada,[10] Romania,[11] Russia,[12] Spain,[13] Argentina,[14] the United States,[15] and Costa Rica.[16] A Dutch campaign at Christmas 2011 gave a discount on the price of the donated coffee.[17]

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.[18] The growth of the trend in other coffee shops in the UK also received media coverage around the same time.[19]

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.[20]


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.[5] In 2004, a giornata nazionale del sospeso at Easter was announced by the Ronde della carità charity.[21] In 2011, a Giornata del Caffè Sospeso was scheduled to coincide with Human Rights Day in December.[22] A collection of Italian arts festivals emphasising social solidarity in 2010 came together under the umbrella "Rete del Caffè Sospeso".[23] An Italian fundraising website started by Luca Argentero is called[24][25]

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. ^ "Why kindness matters". YouTube. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  5. ^ a b Scalzi, Mario (7 April 2010). "Italian Coffee Break part 1 — Paying it Forward in Naples". Access Italy. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Eggleton, Pat (4 May 2010). "Buon Compleanno, Gambrinus". ITALY Magazine. istos srl. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  8. ^ Crescenzo, Luciano De (2010-10-07). Il caffè sospeso (in Italian). Edizioni Mondadori. ISBN 9788852014161. 
  9. ^ Agence France-Presse (25 March 2013). "Bulgarian cafés get an Italian twist". News24. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  10. ^ "Un premier "café en attente" à Québec | Claudette Samson | Société". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  11. ^ "Suspended coffee in Romania". getlokal. 
  12. ^ Faustova, Milena (7 January 2012). "Coffee free of charge". Voice of Russia. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  13. ^ "Cafés Pendientes | ¿Te sumas a la iniciativa del Café Pendiente? #CafesPendientes". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  14. ^ "Cafe Pendiente". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  15. ^ "Portland joins suspended coffee movement". Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  16. ^ "Los ticos aprenden el arte de regalar café sin mirar a quién con el Café Pendiente". Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  17. ^ "Caffè Sospeso voor inloophuizen -". AT5 Echt Amsterdams Nieuws (in Dutch). 21 December 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  18. ^ Reynolds, John. "Starbucks joins Suspended Coffee homeless initiative". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  19. ^ "BBC News - Would you buy a 'suspended coffee' for someone in need?". 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  20. ^ Davidson, Janet (2013-08-05). "Are we hard-wired to buy Timmies for hundreds of strangers?". CBC. 
  21. ^ "Oggi giornata nazionale del caffé "sospeso"". Nove da Firenze (in Italian). 12 April 2004. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  22. ^ "La Voce del Corpo di Luca Vullo in tour". (in Italian). 29 November 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  23. ^ "Principi" (in Italian). Rete del Caffè Sospeso. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  24. ^ "1 Caffè" (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  25. ^ Fradelloni, Francesca (23 December 2011). "Una Iena più verde che nera. Intervista a Luca Argentero". Greenews (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-03-28.