Episode 51: The Heartwarming Story of Suspended Coffee

Food is meant to be shared, so people say. Offering someone your food is known as a part of Filipino hospitality. It’s also a way of showing charity for the hungry, and an act of welcoming for those who aren’t.

It’s nice to share food and all, but have you thought of offering some to someone you don’t know? Somewhere, there’s a poor, hungry fellow who can’t have a bite or drink because he doesn’t have the means. Ever thought of buying food from a place you’re dining, and then having someone less fortunate partake of it?

The people of Naples, Italy were the first to work on that idea. We now call that “suspended coffee.

“Wikipedia defines suspended coffee (caffè sospeso in Italian) as “a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity.” It is said that in Naples, someone would order suspended coffee by paying for two coffees but consuming only one. When a poor person later on asks for a suspended coffee, the extra cup would be served to him.

The suspended coffee tradition died down a bit until around 2008, during the so-called Great Recession and the European debt crisis. It became a symbol of solidarity, kindness, and generosity, which is now being practiced around Europe and other countries.

The Philippines became one of the latest to practice the suspended coffee tradition. Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace, a restaurant in Quezon City co-owned by Bodjie Pascua (“Kuya Bodjie” from “Batibot”) started its version of suspended coffee on Easter Sunday (March 31).

Customers may order any food or drink as “suspended”, which the restaurant will keep as food stubs. These stubs are then given to beggars, the homeless, or anyone who is in need of something to eat or drink. Sometimes, Blacksoup staff would go around and distribute the “suspended” food items.

Blacksoup has become popular because of this initiative, though long before that, it has been one of the most frequented places in Metro Manila. Kuya Bodjie said Blacksoup started out as a film collective, but soon it became known for its film and book collections, poetry reading and art sessions, and their take on “Filipino and Asian fusion” cuisine.

A good meal at Blacksoup may start with appetizers, soups and salads, such as Hot Balut and the Crab & Mango Rolls. One cannot also miss their specialty pastas such as the Blacksoup Pasta (squid, fish egg, nori and Japanese mayo – my favorite), Aligue (crab fat with capers and basil) and You Won’t Be Single For Long (tomatoes and onions with vodka cream).

They also have special dishes for more discriminating (and extravagant) tastes, such as lamb inasal, marinated porkchop with herb salsa and rice, and baked salmon. (I haven’t tried them. Well, sorry for being poor.)

Blacksoup’s sandwiches are worth trying too, especially for those who want light but satisfying meals. The cheese pimiento and tofu burgers would be on the top of my list. What a tasty way to avoid meat (seriously)! To end the meal, one can avail of their selection of ice cream desserts, hot and cold teas, shakes, and even red wine or beer.

The restaurant serves special menus weekly, so there’s always something new to dine on. What I’ve tried so far (actually way back) were the mushroom and onion soup, the spicy barbecued shrimp with baby potatoes and the guyabano ice cream.

Like I mentioned, one can buy any item from Blacksoup’s menu, and have them classified as “suspended.” It doesn’t matter what you buy, be it a luxurious steak or a simple salad. What matters is you are able to transmit your good intentions and prayers for a well-nourished tummy to those who need them.

Blacksoup’s suspended coffee initiative is still ongoing, and it has reached out to dozens of needy people. It has also inspired hundreds of patrons to share their food – and by extension, their blessings – to others, not only by buying suspended items, but also to reach out to others on their own.

The suspended coffee movement is a definite example of the greatness of the human spirit. I say it is when a person opens his heart willingly to others, when he shows compassion and practices charity whole-heartedly, when a person shares a part of himself, then the world becomes a better place, one suspended cup after another.

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Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace
154 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, QC
Tel. Nos. 435 2549 / 0915.3055480

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