Caffè Sospeso:  A Neopolitan Tradition of Kindness Goes Global

Caffè Sospeso: A Neopolitan Tradition of Kindness Goes Global

Originating in the working-class areas of Naples in the early 20th Century, a caffè sospeso, aka 'suspended coffee', 'pending coffee', or 'pay it forward coffee' is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity.

The practice began as a goodwill gesture where more fortunate patrons at Neapolitan cafés and coffee bars would pay for two coffees, one for themselves, and one for someone less fortunate. Then throughout the day, a person in need could go in and inquire if a sospeso was available, and if so would then be served a pre-paid coffee for free.

While this simple and heartfelt tradition began in Naples over a century ago, it had periods of sporadic popularity, but after the Second World War, it eventually spread throughout Italy. It has since gotten very popular throughout other countries, including the United States. In December 2011, Neapolitan authorities declared an annual "Caffè Sospeso Day".

Coffee is loved worldwide, but especially by Italians, and it is a cherished part of the culture. Therefore the tradition of caffè sospeso is like providing a little gift of love, and every small anonymous act of kindness for someone in need is something we need more of in this world.  

Nowadays, cafés often have a jar on the counter with caffè sospeso tickets or cards inside, and one in need can take a card and get a free coffee.

Have you ever purchased a caffè sospeso? Sometimes the smallest of acts of generosity can mean the most to those less fortunate. Dio ti benedica! God Bless!

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