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Pending coffee: a cup of kindness

coffee break kindness generates kindness

“When someone is happy in Naples, he pays for two coffees:
one for himself and another for anyone else.
It’s like offering a coffee to the rest of the world.”
Luciano De Crescenzo, in his book entitled “Il caffè sospeso”.

The coffee break has always been a moment of fun so now I’ll give you a taste of the drink that boasts having so many fans in Italy. I offer it to you with a curiosity: the pending coffee (caffè sospeso). This cup of kindness is an ancient tradition of solidarity that originated in Naples that has inspired documentaries, books, and literary competitions. There are those who say: only after a coffee I can… express”. The truth is that coffee and good humor are part of Italian life. There is no day without a coffee… and much less without a good laugh.

But I don’t mean just one! In fact, each day in Italy, 80 thousand  cups of coffee are served, and many times are accompanied by  

jokes, some intelligent, others not so much, which when told in a coffee shop can draw a smile on our face. It doesn’t matter how gray is your day, just a coffee break is enough to trigger a good moment. Some cups have printed caffè al volo (quick coffee) and there are coffee shops that also offer quick challenges such as writing a small story in just the time of a coffee which in Italy is almost always very fast. In others, we can take and/or exchange books or come across DJs that invite the clients to leave shyness apart and sing a song live on the radio. In Radio Padova’s morning program I listened to great talents. If the ‘macchiato’ is sweetened with love everything becomes possible.

pausa caffè

Pending coffee

Coffee and creativity are always present and are prepared to satisfy any taste. Short black, long black, cappuccino, hot macchiato, cold macchiato, with milk on the side, in a large cup (long), spiked coffee… the list is long. But what was that story about the pending coffee becoming a documentary? Well, the customer orders a coffee and pays for two leaving the second one to be given to anyone more unfortunate, which perhaps just that day would not even have a coin in his pocket to treat himself with that little pleasure. So, when the craving for coffee is too strong or the cold freezes to the bones the best course of action is to take refuge in a coffee shop and ask for a pending coffee. If so, a cup of coffee will be immediately served.

Although these days it’s no longer a habit, many go out of their way to keep this tradition alive. Some reserve a special day to remember it, and, fortunately, many take the initiative and continue to promote it, as recently happened at the Milan Fair, where seven thousand pending coffees were served. The idea also became an appCaffè pagato conviene a Tutti (Paid coffee suits everyone) whose community grows every day. The Caffè Pagato app has already 9.000 subscribers and around 100 affiliated bars. A concrete gesture of friendship that spreads through Italian cities. The application can be downloaded for free at  App Store or Google Play.

The practice of pending coffee is an act of kindness or charity towards others. This gesture so natural and friendly has crossed the boundaries of Naples conquering other Italian cities, such as Rome and Milan, and arrived abroad: United Kingdom, France, the United States, and Brazil have already embraced it. Thus, without much clamor, prepaid coffee goes around helping to warm the body and the heart of many people, especially on the coldest winter days.

pausa caffè
cartaz com preços do café

Coffee with good manners

It’s not just kindness that counts when it’s time for a coffee break. If one does not save on good manners, he probably will be able to save money. It’s not rare to find as a joke on the balcony a notice showing the price of coffee may vary depending on how you ask for it: ‘a coffee = € 3; ‘a coffee please = € 2 and ‘good morning, could you make me a coffee, please? = €1. “Kindness generates kindness“, as said José Datrino, a Brazilian urban personality known in Rio de Janeiro as the Gentle Prophet. For those who want to know more about this character beloved by Cariocas (people born in Rio), the links are here and here.

caffè sospeso


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