Suspended coffee in the cafes of Kyiv: a gesture of solidarity for the military

Apr 29 2022, 08:28 | by Michela Becchi
A coffee or a sweet already paid to send a message of hope to those who risk their lives to defend the country. The tradition of suspended coffee has arrived in Kyiv.

Suspended coffee in Kyiv

A coffee paid for the military busy fighting for their country, a gesture of solidarity that passes, once again, through the restaurant industry. A coffee to say "thank you", "let's resist", to convey messages that would otherwise become superfluous if written down. Just a coffee, for a break from the tragedy, from the horror of war, to catch the breath. A break to ease the pain, to put it aside for a moment. It is not possible to forget, but it is possible to take a moment, just one, small, brief moment. The time for a coffee. It is really happening in the cafes of Kiev, where the Neapolitan tradition of suspended coffee has arrived, namely a cup already paid for the military by other customers, accompanied by pink post-it notes with messages of hope. It is the journalist Olga Rudenko, editor-in-chief of The Kyiv Independent, who reported in a post on Twitter.

The tradition of suspended coffee

"In many coffee houses in Kyiv," writes the journalist, "pink post-its are beverages and desserts that visitors have paid for as a treat for military or territorial defense members, who can come and claim any of them for free. It’s people’s way to thank their defenders, but I have to say that so far all the people in the uniform that I’ve seen come in choose to pay for their drinks". A gesture that moves us and that brings us back to the Neapolitan tradition of suspended coffee, also born in wartime. It was in hard economic times, during World War II, that those who could afford it started paying for two: one for themselves and the other for those who could not afford it, so that everyone could enjoy the pleasure of an espresso even in times of crisis. It was up to the bartender then to offer new customers the suspended coffee.

"Offering a coffee to the rest of the world"

A tradition that still lasts, although not as it once was: the Caffè Gambrinus in Naples revived the suspended coffee tradition in 2010 on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, bringing to light an almost forgotten tradition to be preserved with care and spread it as much as possible. Writer Luciano De Crescenzo has even dedicated the title of a book to this act of kindness, ‘Il caffè sospeso’ (suspended coffee). This book gave rise to the famous quote: "When a Neapolitan is happy for some reason, instead of paying for just one coffee, the one he would drink, he pays for two, one for himself and one for the customer who comes after. It's like offering a coffee to the rest of the world." In this case, it is a city we are talking about, a country that has sadly been under the watchful eye of the whole world for more than two months now. A coffee may not be enough to comfort soldiers, but such gestures help them feel less lonely.

by Michela Becchi

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