“Hanging coffee”: an Italian tradition that has taken root in Russia


“Hanging” coffee is a Neapolitan tradition that is a form of social support. But who “suspends” and “removes” the drink, and most importantly, why?

Who and for whom?

A person comes to a coffee shop, pays for two coffees, but takes only one. It would seem that simple mathematics, 2 is not equal to one, but the tradition that originated in Naples calls this formula into question. The essence of the charity event is to “hang”, that is, to leave for the future, coffee for anyone who needs a warming and invigorating drink, but does not have the means to buy it. Absolutely anyone can take part in the event, as well as become the recipient of such a “gift”.

hanging coffee

A bit of history

An unusual tradition called caffè sospeso (translated from Italian sospeso – suspended) originated in the middle of the 19th century in the administrative center of the Campania region, and more precisely in the city of Naples. If any resident of the area had a financial boom, things were going uphill so well that he could afford social assistance, or just wanted to show his own generosity, such a person ordered a caffè sospeso in a tavern. Paid for two portions, took one, leaving the other to the poor. Low-income people could simply walk into an establishment and ask, “Is there sospeso?” They got their cup of warming drink absolutely free.

Sospeso coffee

tradition in the world

The distribution of the sospeso tradition in many countries is due more to the general trend of bringing charity and social assistance to a new level than to uniqueness as such. There is no exact data on in which countries the custom is popular and in which it is little known, but summing up information from various sources, we can say that residents of more than 80 countries, including Russia, know about it, but more on that later.

The unusual way of showing attention and support to people in need was best perceived by residents of European countries and the United States. But the founders of the tradition themselves not only do not forget about this possibility, but also constantly improve it. Since 2020, despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, you can “hang” not only a flavored drink, but also food. In some countries, these are sandwiches and desserts, in others – dishes that are prepared on special occasions.

In Milan, instead of coffee, they chose panettone, a traditional Christmas pastry reminiscent of Easter cake. The scheme remains the same: a prepaid portion can be obtained absolutely free of charge by anyone in need. Therefore, if you find yourself in the main city of the northern part of Italy at the end of December, then present a gift to someone who will be very happy about this. You will not only help a stranger, but also radically change your life.

Italian panettone

And what about in Russia?

The story of “hanging coffee” in Russia began with a wave that rose in the media in 2005: then, many coffee houses, primarily in the capital, succumbing to the desire to match the trends, began to offer their visitors to participate in the action. Only in one network “Kofein” for a couple of years more than 700 cups of coffee were “suspended”. Interestingly, in the center of Moscow, the same regular visitors did this, and the elderly or students “removed” the coffee.

Today, despite the relative lull in social networks and other information sources about this tradition and its low popularity, there are still places in Moscow and St. Petersburg where you can “hang” and “take off” coffee:

  1. Network “Kofein” (Moscow).
  2. Network “Cafe Artemy Lebedev” (Moscow).
  3. Cafe in the Hermitage garden “Veranda 32.05” (Moscow).
  4. Bar on Barrikadnaya “Red Espresso Bar” (Moscow).
  5. Vegetarian cafe “Ukrop” on Mayakovskaya (St. Petersburg).
  6. Vegetarian cafe “Samadeva” (metro Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg).
  7. Cafe and Museum “Republic of Cats” on Admiralteyskaya (St. Petersburg).

Ambiguous moments

First, it is much more pleasant for many people to receive (“take off” coffee) than to give (pay for a double serving). Of course, such a social initiative is not as attractive as a cocktail sent to a person you like, which is likely to be followed by an acquaintance. However, think about the fact that you have the opportunity to do a good deed and help someone who sincerely needs it. Such initiatives are part of the foundation on which society is built.

Secondly, there are not many places where the promotion is valid. There are several options for what to do next. Baristas are also negotiable people, even if the tradition of “hanging” coffee is not in demand at the establishment. If you doubt that such a gesture will be appreciated in your city, do not dwell on it: take part in any other social assistance and support action. It will warm people in need just as much as a free drink.

hanging coffee

Like any other tradition, “suspended” coffee has its drawbacks, but they are all easily forgiven by virtue of one of the most important argument “for” – mutual assistance. Support those who need your care and attention so much, and everyone will benefit from this, because kindness is contagious. Do you want to make sure of this? Read the stories of billionaires who spare no expense to charity.

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