Suspended coffee, helping less fortunate

Ryan Carpe

January 15, 2014

DARKE COUNTY – “Every once in a while an idea comes along with the potential to truly make the world a better place. Suspended Coffee is one of those ideas.”

That’s the mission statement of Suspended Coffee, a program that offers coffee patrons a chance to pay it forward with a cup of Joe.

The process is simple: A customer can walk in, purchase a coffee for themselves and an additional cup for a person who may be in need. The paid-for coffee is tabled, and will be offered to the next person who asks if there are any suspended coffees available.

Donors and recipients stay completely anonymous to each other, and the small act of kindness is passed on to make someone’s day a little brighter.

Greenville coffee shop Brenda’s Beanery has been participating in the program for more than a year, where the program is also referred to as “Caring Coffee.”

The tradition of Suspended Coffee started in Italy under the name “caffe sospeso,” and was mentioned as early as 2004 item in the Italian online newspaper Nove da Firenze.

According to the Suspended Coffee website, a barista historically records the suspended item, such as an espresso or pastry, and the items remain in the log book until someone less fortunate inquires about suspended availability.

Since its inception, the movement has spread to nearly every continent, with participating coffee shops in the Philippines, India, and throughout Australia, Europe and the United States.

Brenda McDonald, owner of Brenda’s Beanery, found out about it the trend on the internet and after reviewing the program decided it would be a good fit for her shop.

“We decided it would be a good idea to offer to those who can’t afford coffee, so they can be able to get a cup,” said Brenda. “It allows people to help others for a little more than a dollar, so it’s not like we’re asking for large donations.”

The program does not discriminate who is eligible to receive free coffee, and business owners use their own discretion to provide suspended drinks.

At Brenda’s Beanery, they provide suspended coffees for a mix of low-income families, residents with disabilities and homeless people.

“There are a lot of people in the community that really can’t afford a cup of coffee, so it’s a good tradeoff. Since there are homeless people around the community, we just wanted to find a way to reach out and help those people,” said Brenda.

Brenda estimates that her shop sells at least two to three suspended coffees per day, and as of Thursday afternoon the shop had more than 30 caring coffees available for those in need.

Informally, other local Greenville coffee shops like The Coffee Pot and A&B Coffee have often experienced generous patrons who throw in a few extra dollars for the next customer’s order.

“You’d be surprised how often people will pay it forward,” said Betsy Ward of A&B Coffee.

And as the suspended coffee continues, Brenda’s Beanery is happy to see these small gifts from the community go on to make a difference to those in need.

Many times, their reactions are worth much more than a couple dollars.

“They’re surprised, very pleased and very thankful that we’re able to help them,” said Brenda.