The “sospeso”, or suspended coffee, movement is quietly making its way around the world. What started out as an old Italian tradition of prepaying for extra coffee or food for a random customer in need is making a comeback in coffee shops everywhere.
Recently, the Wallingford branch of the Essential Baking company started up their own project called “The Essential Baking Sospeso Project”. Customers can now buy a token for a cup of coffee for a stranger in need and add it to the jar on the counter. Now, when someone comes into the shop and can’t afford a cup, they can redeem a coin from the jar for a cup of coffee.
The manager of the shop, Ashley Mengoni, says of the project “The kindness of people giving back is really inspiring,”
Mengoni was inspired by the combination of a Facebook post on the movement and an article called “Homeless in Seattle” by Rex Hohlbein. The article helped her see how little things added to bigger things can make an important difference in people’s lives. She then went to work getting her staff on board and the owners of Essential Baking Company on board.
People have debated back and forth as far as whether the sospeso movement is a good idea or not – sparking concerns on people abusing the honor-based system, or wondering if the money could be better spent. However, Mengoni has stated that so far no one has redeemed a coin on her shifts yet – possibly a good sign.
Mengoni is still trying to spread the word about the program at her cafe, so those in need know it’s there. She is also considering offering tokens for food purchases as well – many people have shown interest in doing more.
The cafe is located at 1604 N 34th Street in Seattle, if you want to stop by.