A waiter crosses out the last espresso on the board of “suspended” coffee purchased by a customer to give away to another who claims it.
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin
It’s not every day that a complete stranger buys you a drink. Or at least it wasn’t, until the idea of a “coffee in suspense” came to Ukraine.
This international trend of buying two coffees and leaving one “in suspense” is a new incarnation of an old trend in Naples, Italy, where it is called caffe sospeso.
It received a new life after 2008, when writer Luciano De Crescenzo published a number of stories and articles describing the tradition of paying for two coffees and drinking one, leaving the other one for the needy – or simply a cheapskate.
Now, this trend has made its way into some 20 cafes and restaurants in Kyiv. The coffee someone decides to buy is marked on a special board and remains up for grabs for anyone who has no money or simply feels like being treated today. Accompanied by the motto, “Give if you wish. Get if you want,” the idea has many forms and names.
In Ukraine, the trend has also evolved: people started buying beverages other than coffee, foods and even jewelry.
“It’s natural. Some people prefer taking, others love giving away,” says Sasha Smetanenko, the project coordinator of Babuin book cafe, where the coffee in suspense theme has taken roots.
Smetanenko said that students are the ones who take most advantage of the scheme, usually during live music concerts that take place in Babuin.
It’s natural. Some people prefer taking, others love giving away.
- Sasha Smetanenko, the project coordinator of Babuin book cafe