Why Ordering ‘Suspended’ Coffees For The Needy Is Stupid And Inefficient

You might have seen the “suspended coffee” meme going around on Facebook or other social media recently, The idea goes as follows: when you order your morning caffeine jolt or pastry, you order additional items, but ask for them to be “suspended.” When a person who can’t afford their own beverage comes in, they can ask for a “suspended” coffee or food, and receive one for free. This makes you feel all warm and cuddly when you hit the “share” button, but in practice is more of a pain in the butt.

As spotted on Facebook, here is the Legend of the Suspended Coffee, with original punctuation intact:

“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter – ‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’

They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend:

‘What are those ‘suspended’ coffees ?’

‘Wait for it and you will see’

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks

‘Do you have a suspended coffee ?’

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.”

We would ask everyone who reads this story to please comment “im gonna do this”and tag your nearest coffee stores facebook page in the comment section. Try to do it just once lets make a difference together . Share the story spread the word . Have an awesome day 🙂

The story is true, according to some great quick research done by Snopes, but that doesn’t mean that you should pester your local coffee shop to institute a suspended coffee program. Think about it from the point of view of mega-chain Starbucks. Melody, who writes an unofficial fan blog about Starbucks, thinks that Starbucks shouldn’t join the “suspended coffee” movement, and not just because the cash register isn’t set up to handle it. It’s because as warm and fuzzy as the idea makes you feel, it’s not such a great idea.

The main problems are as follows:

The people who need free drinks and food aren’t all on Facebook. They won’t know what phrase they’re supposed to use. “I hate to admit it, but some of the very hungry who are absolutely deserving a suspended beverage are also the ones who appear at a Starbucks intoxicated and going from person to person begging for money,” notes Melody. “I have had it happen to me in downtown Seattle.”

Does she mean “ewww, no poors in the Starbucks”? No, not by any means. But if the supply and demand aren’t perfectly in balance, one of two things could happen. If there are too many and they build up, baristas might slip those suspended beverages to friends or favorite regulars, defeating the point. If there are too few, people might rove from shop to shop waiting for a suspended drink to pop up.

Also, is there means testing? Can you get a suspended coffee just by asking for one? Anyone who has spent enough time on online deals forums knows that there are a lot of greedy, cheap jerks out there who will order suspended coffees at the drive-thru window while sitting in a luxury vehicle.

Coffee isn’t a very nutritious food for the hungry. If you want to buy a coffee for someone in need, here’s a wacky idea: carry a few small-balance gift cards in your pocket for people who seem hungry and cold. Look toward something marginally more nutritious than coffee: hand out cards with a $5 or $10 balance to ubiquitous quick-serve or fast-food places like Subway or Taco Bell.

You could also try having actual contact with poor people. Throwing an extra coffee on your tab feels good and isn’t much of a sacrifice, but also consider other ways to help. Take some time to volunteer at a meal program. Pick up a second can of hearty soup at the grocery store and donate it.

The Suspended Coffee Movement: Response by Melody on feeding America. [StarbucksMelody]
Suspended Coffees [Snopes]
Suspended Coffees [Facebook]

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