Hot cup of goodwill comes to Denbigh

A cafe owner has launched a Welsh version of an ancient Italian custom – giving a free cuppa to people who are down on their luck.

The first Suspended Coffee scheme in Wales was set up by Mark Young, who runs the Denbigh Chocolate Shop.

Another two cafes have already signed up and Mark is hoping the idea will lead to a network of coffee houses and restaurants across Wales taking up the idea.

He explained “It’s a nice, hot cup of goodwill. You buy a ‘suspended coffee’ and it’s banked for someone who needs it.”

The idea was born in Naples, and spread to Bulgaria, where 150 cafés have reportedly established it as a formal scheme.

Now, thanks to social networks, it is not just cafés in the US, Russia, Canada, Australia, Asia and Continental Europe that have signed up to the goodwill initiative.

It is based on good faith, both by the stores and the recipients. Anyone can enter a café and ask for a “suspended coffee”, and they are unlikely to be asked for credentials.

The initiative has become an international internet sensation with coffee shops in Europe and North America participating in the movement. the UK Facebook page alone has more than 28,000 “likes.”

The tradition of “suspended coffee” — or “caffe sospeso” in Italian — is a long-standing, centuries old tradition in Italy that increased in popularity after the Second World War.

Mark added: “It’s a fantastic initiative so we decided to help out. I had been pretty much been doing it anyway, just not under a banner. During the winter weather, we have been giving away anything from – coffee, tea or cake.

“The Facebook initiative was drawn to my attention by a regular client, and word has spread quickly since we set up this week.

“I thought it was a great idea because it’s like having a mobile food bank.

“Every time someone pays, they have the option of paying for somebody else – that could be a drink or a cake or a sandwich.

“We’ve had 23 in one day and unbelieavably five people have already come in to claim their free drink.

“I’ve got to say, they’ve come from all walks of life. Some come in and want to leave very quickly.

“There are some pretty sad stories out there and it certainly makes me feel better being able to give them a drink.

“We do it in a way that does not embarrass anybody, particularly the recipients.

“I got the idea from a customer who is Italian and I saw on the Internet that the Irish have started a Suspended Coffee Scheme.

“After Easter, I was feeling a bit guilty because I had eaten a bit of chocolate and I thought this was a wonderful thing to set up.

“The response has been phenomenal and I challenge some of the bigger coffee companies who’ve had some bad press to redeem themselves by joining the Suspended Coffee movement.

“We are doing our little bit in Denbigh but the big companies can obviously reach so many more people. It would be great if some of the major ones came on board and get some brownie points back off the community.

“I would like to see a network of coffee houses and restaurant across Wales coming on board.

“Our Facebook page has already got more than 200 Likes – it’s a great cause and I think everyone should join in.

“If there’s anything left over the equivalent in cash will be donated to Denbigh Food Bank – so it’s a win win.

“It’s a beautiful idea and you can help people who are having a hard time for whatever reason.”

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