Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Suspended Coffee" To Treat Needy People Bad Idea, Says Consumerist

One of the latest crazes on Facebook is a story about "Suspended Coffee:"

How that works is, people go into a coffee shop and order maybe two coffees, "one for me, one suspended."
Nice idea, but some say the "suspended
coffee" movement is misguided

The customer pays for both coffees, and later, a person without money theoretically comes in to get their free coffee.

The customer feels good for being charitable, the coffee shop personnel feel good about helping others with free coffee and the needy person feels good for getting free coffee.

I can't criticize the idea behind Suspended Coffees. It's a really nice gesture.

However, Consumerist throws cold coffee water on this seemingly nice, giving idea, however.

It all goes to prove that being nice to strangers, to anybody, is more complicated than we want it to be, or even think about.

First of all, says Consumerist, "suspended coffee" is mostly a creature of Facebook. Many homeless or low income people aren't on Facebook. So the people who aren't on social media get left out of all the help, because many of these people don't even know to ask for their "suspended coffee"

Second, Consumerist asks, is this idea means tested? What's to stop somebody who can well afford a whole coffee plantation, much less one cup of coffee, from coming in and asking for a free "suspended coffee"?

Consumerists also points out coffee isn't particularly nutritious. Plus, they ask, isn't it nicer to just show up at a food pantry or something to volunteer and have actual contact with the people seeking help?

A British coffee shop owner also blogged about suspended coffee being a bad idea.

First of all, if somebody staggered into a coffee shop desperately poor, freezing cold and starving, the owner would give away a warm drink to that person whether or not somebody already paid for a suspended coffee.

Small, independent local coffee shops often already give back to the community without well meaning but flashy campaigns like suspended coffee.

And, says the blogger, there's a chance an unscrupulous coffee shop owner could take money from people buying "suspended coffee" then just pocket the money without giving anything away.

So, if you want to help a poor person out in the street, you're just going to have to deal with him or her directly.


  1. Agreed that suspended coffee isn't a healthy or helpful idea

  2. You are completely right, it is a lovely sentiment but a terrible idea! Here's my take on it: