Something exciting happened this week – the new Suspended Coffees website launched! If you haven’t heard of the idea before it hails from Italy where it’s common for Neapolitan coffee lovers to order an extra coffee with their morning caffeine kick. That coffee is essentially ‘banked’ so that someone else can enjoy it later. It could be a homeless person or someone who’s just having a bit of a hard day or is down on their luck for whatever reason. What a great idea!
In celebration of the new website launch the organisers challenged as many people as possible to buy a suspended cup of coffee today to try and grow the movement worldwide. I am very fond of this idea. In an age where our entire lives are documented online I’ve had the feeling lately that my generation in particular is becoming totally disconnected from real human interaction. We reach out to others online but rarely face to face and this initiative is a great way to combat that and generally learn to be a bit kinder to one another in the real world as well as the virtual one.
The website has a full list of participating cafes and I must confess I was totally shocked to see there were only 3 participating cafés in all of London. Since I moved here just over a week ago I have seen people in need everywhere I have gone. Homeless people huddled up together for warmth, seeking shelter in Tube stations and in need of food. Hopefully the scheme will grow here because it could make such a difference to a lot of people. I decided to visit one of the cafes already on board this afternoon and headed to Look Mum No Hands! on Old Street.
I entered the address into Citymapper and headed on my way. I’ve used the app a couple of times now and I have to say I have fallen out of love with it as swiftly as I fell for it. My ‘map’ took me through every hole in the bush and I felt as though I had walked the length and breadth of the city by the time I finally reached my destination.
Look Mum No Hands! is a bicycle lover’s paradise which even boasts a workshop while you wait and hosts bicycle maintenance workshops to keep you on two wheels more often than on two legs. I ordered my coffee(s) and enjoyed a lovely latte as cyclists descended after work to carb load before making their way home.
Unfortunately there was no signage anywhere to say that this location supports the suspended coffee scheme although the scheme itself is a relatively new concept here so I suspect most café owners are still trying to find their feet with this. I think the scheme will only work as it needs to if cafes are very open in their support of it. A big sticker in the window and a sign with a tally of how many suspended coffees are available is essential so that those in need are aware that it’s a service they can avail of and those able to buy an extra cuppa know they can do so. The fact that this café has signed up in support of the movement is brilliant and should be applauded. They just need to tell people they are doing it! So far, the suspended coffees movement has grown online and that is great. But how many homeless people do you know that have access to the internet? It can only work if the people who will most benefit actually know about it.
Do you know of a local café that might be able to get involved with the scheme? It’s a win-win situation for local businesses because the coffees are already paid for and as a patron it’s great to support a business that aims to help those in need within their community. They just need to make people aware that, should they need a cuppa, it’s there for them. As Suspended Coffees says, it’s about more than the coffee.