Would Suspended Coffee Work in Miami?

Categories: Food Charity

coffee.jpg
Laine Doss
Would you buy a stranger a cup of coffee?
On a recent trip to Dublin, I saw it on a coffeehouses's menu board. Along with lattes, mochas, and teas, there was "suspended coffee." Thinking it was a new way of brewing, I asked.

Suspended coffee is neither a method nor a flavor. It is a movement. Basically, you order a suspended coffee as you would anything else on the menu. But after paying for it, you receive nothing. Instead, the little you paid for your coffee goes into a "suspended" transaction, to be saved for someone who doesn't have the money.

When that person comes in, he or she is given the beverage you paid for in advance. It's a formalized pay-it-forward.

See also: Why Is Miami So Mean? Pay It Forward at the Starbucks Drive-Thru

Suspended coffee programs actually started in Naples, Italy, more than a century ago, but without structure, the idea petered out over the years. Now, the movement is being revived in Ireland, where the Suspended Coffee Foundation has been formed.

Suspended coffees are a thing on the Emerald Isle, but not so much in the United States. At the moment, there is only one location listed in South Florida, at a performing arts space in Kendall called Talents Unleashed. The spot sells refreshments at performances and participates in the suspended coffee program at those times. There are no coffeehouses or restaurants, in the true sense of the word, that participate in Miami, although Tongue & Cheek sets out an urn of American coffee on weekends, allowing anyone who would like a free cup to help themselves.

I went to Panther Coffee for a midday java a few days ago and happened to catch owners Joel and Leticia Pollock at the Wynwood location. I asked Joel about suspended coffee, and he said it seemed like a good idea, but wasn't sure it would work in Miami.

Leticia was more optimistic about the good people of Miami buying a cup of Joe for an unseen stranger, but thought maybe there should be less structure. "I prefer when people just help other people in a more organic way," she said.

That being said, asking people for money at a point-of-sale transaction has been around for a while. You've probably donated a few dollars to buy a paper heart or shoe for a children's hospital or organization. In fact, most people don't think of donating money to a charity or helping someone out until they're asked. Which is why a formal suspended coffee program would probably work.

Until suspended coffee becomes more mainstream, there's always the pay-it-forward method, where you just pick up the tab for someone -- be it a toll, a coffee, or a soda. In a world that's increasingly more cynical and disconnected, we need more people performing random acts of kindness.

So, if it's a formal program or just leaving a box on the counter for people to place a few bucks in for someone in need, I hope Miami embraces the concept. Because, whether you left your wallet at home or you don't have a wallet (or a home), at some point we could all use a free coffee -- and the knowledge that someone cares.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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31 comments
Jonathan Arnold
Jonathan Arnold

People actually walk into coffee shops that can't pay for it?

Ivie Sanchez
Ivie Sanchez

I would do this but everyone else in Miami sucks Isaias Rivero

Jeannie Necessary
Jeannie Necessary

I would for sure. I think I'll do this the next time I get coffee. :-)

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Suspended coffee is a little more than what the article states, it's for the homeless, not the lazy & shiftless that won't buy their own coffee and are capable of working for it. And in that case for the homeless, if it were truly altruistic, maybe the coffee isn't paid forward at full price, because Starbucks can pour a pot or two on what they charge for coffee beans.

Monica Goforth
Monica Goforth

I see homeless people asking for money to get food so there has been many of times that I would actually take them inside and buy them some food. That the least someone can do for someone who is hungry.

Mason Wartman
Mason Wartman

Any low ticket item. Bagels? Soft pretzels? Cheap, high-caloric foods would work best, I think.

Patrick Garcia
Patrick Garcia

I mean..... usually they do that in a colder environment cause a lot of people without homes will go to a coffee shop and drink coffee to warm up. Might work better with food in miami....

Jc Rodriguez
Jc Rodriguez

Great idea, giving back is always medicine to your soul!!!

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Sure, why not? but i may not drink it with him

Andre Michael
Andre Michael

Poorly written article about a very good idea.

Lynne Dear
Lynne Dear

It's common nowadays for people to be in a coffee line and pay for the coffee for the person behind them...... I see this often.

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