Shops: ‘Suspended Coffee’ movement pays it forward

PARKERSBURG – A local credit union is sponsoring and encouraging others to join a worldwide movement to give those who cannot afford it a warm drink.

The “Suspended Coffees” is an international program that sees a person purchase a coffee for themselves and another for someone who may not be able to pay for it but is in need of one later, said Lisa Collins, spokesperson for the West Virginia Central Credit Union.

“The West Virginia Central Credit Union is inviting Parkersburg residents to participate in the movement on Jan. 15 in an attempt to set a Guinness Record for Suspended Coffee purchases,” Collins said.

As part of the program, the company has paid for a number of suspended coffees at The Crystal Cafe and The Daily Grind on Market Street as well as Dunkin Donuts in south Parkersburg. Those in charge of the program at the credit union are working to add more restaurants and coffee shops to the list, Collins said.

“Wednesday is a day to recognize the program, which has been in larger cities and metropolitan areas for a while, and help those in need locally,” Collins said.

These suspended coffees are available to anyone who asks in a restaurant where someone has already paid and there are no qualifications needed to receive one.

“This is just another way to help someone in need,” said Mike Tucker, CEO of the West Virginia Central Credit Union. “We believe this is a community filled with generous people, and once word gets out about this program, others will step up and continue to support the idea of Suspended Coffees.”

Collins said that while the credit union is encouraging people to pay for suspended coffees today, it is something many local shops have done for a while.

“When I talked to a number of downtown shops, most of them said they are already doing something like it and are excited to offer it to the public and are happy to help people provide for others,” she said. “It is not a formal project, so if you don’t want to wait until Wednesday or if you want to do it more than once, you can ask a restaurant if they participate and purchase a suspended coffee or two whenever you would like.”

The suspended coffees movement reportedly began in Naples, Italy, following World War II when many people had lost everything and could not afford a cup of coffee. Throughout the years the tradition has spread globally with at least one account having claimed it could be more than 100 years old, according to the website Coffee Sharing (www.coffeesharing.com).

“It’s simple… people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who cannot afford a warm beverage. It is generally an anonymous act of charity,” the website states.

While the tradition is typically a coffee, Collins and Coffee Sharing said those who feel and are able to be more generous can add a food item or even a meal to the “Suspended” program.

“This is really an effort to allow people to help others,” Collins said. “It is exactly a ‘pay it forward’ thing.”

Those interested in registering their participation can go to the Suspended Coffee Facebook page and commit to being part of the Guinness Record day.

Additional businesses interested in participating may call West Virginia Central at 304-485-4523, or email lcollins@wvccu.org.