A caffè sospeso (pronounced [kafˈfɛ ssoˈspeːso, -eːzo]; Italian for “suspended coffee”) or pending coffee is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free.Coffee shops in other countries have adopted the sospeso to increase sales, and to promote kindness and caring.
One 2010 account claims the tradition was over 100 years old, but declined during the postwar economic boom, so that it is mainly observed around Christmas time. A 2008 article reported the tradition was obsolescent, the reporter having visited three bars where it had not been observed for at least 15 years. Aurelio De Laurentiis is reported to pay for ten sospesi after each victory by S.S.C. Napoli, the football club of which he is chairman.
The sospeso gave the title to a 2008 journalism collection by Neapolitan Luciano De Crescenzo, Il caffe sospeso: Saggezza quotidiana in piccoli sorsi, which helped publicise the tradition throughout Italy. The idea has been reported in cafés in Bulgaria, Ukraine,Australia,Canada, Romania, Russia,Spain,Argentina,the United States,and Costa Rica. The idea received a revival in Italy in 2011 with several small Italian festivals forming a Suspended Coffee Network to encourage solidarity in response to cultural budget cuts, and a Dutch campaign at Christmas 2011 gave a discount on the price of the donated coffee. In December 2011, Neapolitan authorities declared an annual “Suspended Coffee Day”.