There is a wonderful tradition in Naples called "suspended coffee" which is rapidly spreading around the world. In the midst of the social crisis and growing poverty in the Western world, the fact that the custom of leaving a paid coffee for someone else who cannot afford it is spreading is making headlines, and many international newspapers are devoting space to this beautiful history. However, Neapolitans have been carrying on this custom for over 200 years. In Naples, suspended coffee is not just a fashion trend, or a way to draw attention to social issues, it is a truly consolidated ritual.
Naples and coffee
As everyone knows, going for a coffee is a social ritual in Naples. Almost everyone has their favorite bar where they can complete the coffee ritual by exchanging a chat with friends and acquaintances. The idea of suspended coffee comes from the Neapolitan awareness of the fact that having the opportunity to drink a coffee is an important part of daily life; everyone should have the right to be able to enjoy this delicious moment of well-being at least once a day. In fact, according to the Neapolitans, coffee, while not an essential food necessary for the body, certainly warms the heart and soothes the spirit.
Suspended coffee: custom and tradition
The tradition of suspended coffee dates back to the eighteenth century. Since then it has been an easy way to give away a little moment of joy: if you felt happy, you paid for two coffees, one for you and one for someone who would go to the bar after you. Often a person who didn't have enough money came in and asked if there was a "suspended coffee", this habit has meant that the suspended coffee has become a noble gesture: to give something to the less fortunate while remaining anonymous.
Coffee suspended today
Even today, many cafés in the city support this ancient and beautiful tradition. One of these is the famous Gran Caffè Gambrinus facing Piazza del Plebiscito in the city centre. Lesser-known coffee shops advertise the practice of suspended coffee with signs placed outside the cafés or by word of mouth, so as to let the needy of the city know where to go for a free cup of coffee.
So, next time you're in Naples, do as the locals do: pay for a "suspended coffee", continue the tradition and give a happy moment to those who need it most.
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