x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Coffee lovers welcome drink donation scheme

Suspended Coffees has been growing in popularity in North America and Europe as a way for coffee lovers to give back to their communities.

A novel way for coffee shop patrons to give back to the community could make its way to the UAE.  Reuters / Fredy Builes
A novel way for coffee shop patrons to give back to the community could make its way to the UAE. Reuters / Fredy Builes

DUBAI // A charitable scheme that allows coffee drinkers to pay in advance for drinks that are passed on to the less fortunate could be on its way to the UAE.

Suspended Coffees has been growing in popularity in North America and Europe as a way for coffee lovers to give back to their communities. The idea is simple: customers buy as many advanced or “suspended” drinks as they choose. These are then given to the disadvantaged.

In the US, for example, homeless people can go into a coffee shop and order a coffee for nothing because it has already been paid for. Some businesses also offer suspended snacks and meals.

Now John Sweeney, the founder of the initiative, is appealing to coffee-shop owners across the country to join in.

“For me it’s more about the smaller community coffee shops, where they can support the people who are already their customers, support them in the good times as well as the bad,” said Mr Sweeney, who is from Cork, Ireland.

Mr Sweeney admits the concept would have to be altered slightly to fit with the UAE.

“We are looking for someone based in the UAE who can help us to spread the word and develop a system that would be of most benefit to those who need it most in the country,” he said.

“Obviously the situation there is different to other parts of the world but perhaps we can work with coffee shops to allow their customers to help in other ways.”

There are already 550 cafes signed up to the campaign in 26 countries.

“If a new cafe signs up, the only requirement is to display our sticker and poster and also to give the suspended coffees to whomever asks, without judgment.

“If someone is seen to be taking advantage then the cafe can refuse, but just because someone may be smartly dressed they, too, might have just as little as a homeless man.”

Suspended Coffees was launched in March last year as a Facebook page and now has more than 250,000 followers.

A number of coffee-shop owners in the UAE have expressed interest in the scheme, but wanted to know more before deciding to join.

The idea has captured the imagination of coffee drinkers in Dubai, who welcomed the initiative.

“I haven’t heard of it before but it sounds like a great idea,” said Adel Karim, an Egyptian.

“The concept is very interesting and I think you could use it for a range of other things, like restaurants.”

Jack Butler, from the UK, said it would encourage customers to be more loyal to a coffee shop.

“I would definitely take part in something like this,” he said.

“It sounds like such a simple idea but in the UAE they could probably do it in a different way. If customers bought suspended coffees and meals maybe they could deliver them to labour camps at the end of every month.”

Natalie Geddes, from New Zealand, hoped one of the larger coffee chains would take up the concept.

“I think if one of the big companies get on board it would make a huge difference,” she said.

“I would definitely be more willing to support a business that signed up to this campaign than one that didn’t.”

The idea has already captured the interest of PizzaExpress UAE.

“Suspended Coffee, why not Suspended Pizza?” said Anand Radia, managing director of PizzaExpress UAE.

“The initiative sounds great and the idea of spreading kindness is one to be embraced. Should the concept come to the region, PizzaExpress UAE would love to get involved,” he said.

“We would extend the offer beyond our coffees and subsidise suspended pizzas to broaden the ‘pay it forward’ offering.”

For more information about the campaign, visit www.suspendedcoffees.com.

nhanif@thenational.ae