Pay it forward: “suspended coffee” spreads Christmas cheer


Some 20 Amsterdam cafes have signed up for a scheme to provide a free coffee or cup of tea for people who may be hard up and lonely during the Christmas break.

The ‘Bonnetje voor een Ander’ project has been launched in the capital by the local Labour party and aims to provide “a little warmth and happiness” to those who can otherwise not afford to visit their local café.

The idea for caffè sospeso, or “suspended coffee” started in Italy and was revived earlier this century. It has since spread to dozens of countries worldwide.

The idea is simple. If you are buying a coffee or tea in one of the bars taking part, you pay for a second, which will cover the cost of someone else’s beverage. 

“The local café often functions as the neighbourhood living room, where people meet and get talking,” local PvdA leader Lian Heinhuis said. “But unfortunately, there are a lot of lonely people, particularly in winter, and that is because having a social life costs money. This initiative will help people to meet each other, whatever the size of their wallet is.” 

Among the cafes taking part are Eik en Linde, Bouwman, De Gaeper, Oosterling, Blaauwhooft, Hoppe and Thijssen in the city centre, ‘t Sluisje in Noord and Eddy Bar, Van Wou and Wildschut in Zuid. Posters in the window will alert both givers and people looking for some winter cheer.

The campaign kicks off in Amsterdam on December 22 and will run for a month. “But of course, it would be great if the caffè sospeso becomes a tradition in Amsterdam too,” Heinhuis said.

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