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Caffè Sospeso

🤍

By Celia in UnderlandPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Top Story - March 2024
38

Saw this as a post on Truck drivers for change Facebook - made me well up just a tad (AKA I balled my eyes out):

There is a little coffee shop, where two people arrive and approached the counter.

“Five coffees please. Two for us and three hanging.”

They paid, they took their two coffees and left.

I asked the waiter. "What’s this about hanging coffees?"

“Wait and you'll see."

Some more people came in.

Two girls asked for a coffee each, they paid & left.

The following order was for seven coffees and it was made by three women - ‘three for them and four hanging coffees.’

I was left wondering...what is the meaning of the hanging coffees, they leave.

Then, a man dressed in worn clothes, who looks like he might be homeless, arrives at the counter and asks sincerely...

“Do you have a coffee hanging?"

“Yes we do, sir.”

They serve him a coffee.... I got my answer.

People pay in advance for a coffee that will be served to whoever can't afford a hot drink.

This tradition started in Naples.

Amazingly, it has spread throughout the world’s cities and towns.

It’s also possible to order not only "hanging coffees" but also a sandwich or a full low cost meal.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all start doing this in the cities and towns where we live?

Small kindnesses like this can impact so many lives, in ways we could never imagine.

Maybe we should all try it.😊❤️

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The winter had been brutal. The cobbled streets seemed to absorb the cold -the ice embedding into the crevices between each worn stone leaving a disconcerting sheen. Gabriella huddled into the doorway of the old church, wrapping her flimsy coat further into her body as she attempted to escape the morning wind propelled by the sea.

She sighed – her breathe leaving her anxiety in a suspended white cloud around her. Ten years ago, she could never have predicted her current predicament. After Matteo had passed, the bank had taken ownership of the house – the home they had built together. She had not known about the gambling debts, how could she? He was careful not to let the façade of security slip. In the confusion of grief, she had found herself on the streets of Naples, her worldly possessions crumpled into a small hold-all. A few clothes- sanitary products. A hairbrush. A framed photo of them on their wedding day all those years ago. Everything that she could salvage as the debtors ransacked her life in hope of a return.

Unable to find comfort in her position, Gabriella picked up her bag and began to walk downwards towards La Gaiola. She found comfort in the early morning swell of the sea- the waves thrashing against the rocks. The starkness of it against the quiet of the town gave her hope. A reminder of the enduring spirit of nature. As she neared the shoreline, the early morning light cast a golden shadow over the undulating sea. It was a sight she had seen many time in her life but still, the beauty of it never failed to evoke a sense of awe.

Approaching the water's edge, she cut a solitary figure against the vastness. She stood momentarily, pausing in silent reverence, the salty air and the untamed thrashing brought with it a moment of respite. Her mind turned to Matteo, of the dreams they had shared, and how swiftly they had been extinguished. She had barely noticed the small café catved into the cliffside until the aroma of coffee infiltrated her thoughts. "Caffè della Speranza," the sign above the door read - the letters curled and expressive. “Hope” she muttered to the wind. “Well, I certainly could do with a little more of that” Led by instinct and the memory of warmth, she pushed open the solid oak door.

Inside, the cozy interior felt welcoming, a brief sanctuary from the outside. She was surprised to see so many patrons at such an early hour They were mostly fishermen clad in thick rubber boots, hoping for a fresh catch. They talked animatedly amongst themselves, barely noticing her presence. She shifted awkwardly as the realisation that she had no money to purchase anything washed over her. She considered asking for a glass of water but thought better of it. Hoping for just a little more time in the warmth before anyone noticed her, she headed towards the bulletin board. She stared at it intently, feeling the heat of her blood pulsing into her fingers. It was littered with notes of thanks and photographs – some of the faces she recognised, singers and starlets - though she could not remember their names. Matteo would have known them all. At the centre, a hand-crafted sign wielded the words: Caffè Sospeso - A suspended coffee for anyone in need of warmth."

“Go on signora – it is yours’

The voice made her jump.

Beside her stood a burly fisherman, his beard wild like the sea and his eyes twinkling like the pearls of an oyster. He reached across and picked off a ticket, passing it to her.

“Thank you” she muttered, casting her eyes downwards.

Knowing not to prolong her shame, he smiled gently and walked slowly back to his table. She felt the tears prick her eyelids and fought to hold them back. It was no use. The small act of kindness was too much to bear.

Gathering herself, she walked tentatively to the counter.

An elderly man with soft hazel eyes greeted her. "Can I help you, signora?"

Swallowing her pride, she handed him her ticket, "Is it possible …would it-t be OK...for me…?“ she trailed off, the crack in her voice betraying her heart.

The man's smile broadened. "Caffè sospeso, of course, signora" turning to prepare a cup of coffee with practiced ease. "My pleasure. Take a seat” He nodded towards an empty table next to the open fireplace.

As she took her place, she felt the crackling of the flames next to her legs. Each gentle lick soothing the cold that had settled into her bones.

The server brought her coffee, removing it from the tray with a practised flourish.

She held the coffee tightly in her hands. Each sip restoring a part of her she had thought she had buried with Matteo. As she settled into the feeling of warmth and gratitude, she watched as patrons came and went – some even stopping to place an extra ticket on the noticeboard. She wondered about their stories. Had they ever found solace in a suspended coffee?

The elderly man, whom she now knew as Luigi from his name tag, occasionally glanced her way, his understanding eyes offering reassurance. She felt as if he knew her or at least understood that she hadn’t always been like this – that she was more than her current circumstances.

As she neared the end of her coffee, Luigi approached her table, a plate of pastries in hand. "For you, signora - A little sweetness. On the house."

Gabriella was taken aback, her eyes welling up with tears once more. "I ccccan't aaccept this."

"Please," Luigi urged, "We are all family here."

His earnestness broke through the last of Gabriella's defenses. She nodded, managing a grateful smile. "Thank you, Luigi. Thank you."

In that one suspended moment, Gabriella found resolve and hope, knowing that she would survive and flourish. And one day she too would give the gift of a suspended coffee to another human seeking hope. It would be her pleasure.

familyShort Story
38

About the Creator

Celia in Underland

Just a voice finding its echo. Teacher - reader-writer-cat lover. Wanderer. Weirder than a koala in The Arctic. Magpie for shiny words and stuff. Taking the scenic route home.

Admin @ FB VoIces in Minor

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (34)

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  • Farhat Naseemabout a month ago

    nice work

  • What a poignant story… what a powerful effect compassion and kindness can have.🩵

  • A. J. Schoenfeldabout a month ago

    I loved going on this journey with Gabriella. The contrast of how cruelly she was disregarded in the wake of her husband's death with the kindness she found in the caffe was beautifully executed. Great job.

  • Lovely story

  • Your writing carried me effortlessly into the emotions of the story. These are my favorite kinda of stories the ones that make you feel so much for the characters

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    That was beautiful and a reminder in this mad world, that we are all family in the end, living in the same world.

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • LASZLO SLEZAK2 months ago

    Congratulations Celia!

  • Test2 months ago

    Sensational work! Keep up the excellence—congrats!

  • Hayley Matto2 months ago

    Amazing storytelling Celia!! What a sweet tale!! I'd never heard of a hanging coffee either, I wish I had and that it founds it's way to more places.💗 My fav line was "-that she was more than her current circumstances." What a powerful realization. Lovely lovely piece!! Congrats on TS!!

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Beautiful!!!!

  • This story made me so emotional!! We really need this hanging/suspended coffee or food idea to be practiced everywhere! Congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Pay it forward in a cup of coffee, perhaps a small meal. Yep, you got the tears flowing from me as well, Celia, though I've seen it in different ways innumerable times before.

  • D.K. Shepard2 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing! This is such a beautiful story full of encouragement to pay the blessings we’re given forward!

  • Real Poetic2 months ago

    Congratulations Celia!! ❤️🎉

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    I love the premiss of this story and the feeling of hope I am left with afterwards! Such a beautiful and touching story, congrats on Top Story Celia!!

  • Mark Gagnon2 months ago

    Just comming back to say congradulations for another Top Story!

  • Mark Gagnon2 months ago

    Celia, you reached in and touched my heart with this story. Someday I may share why this meant so much to me but not on this platform. Well done!

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Ok, you got me tearing up with this one. It's alays nice to get a little reminder that there's still some good out there. We once had our meal paid for in a a drive up line, so we paid for the next person. A story on the evening news said it happened consecutively for over 20 orders.

  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    Gosh. This was so damn good. Kindness and empathy are everything. This was stunning.

  • JBaz2 months ago

    "Please," Luigi urged, "We are all family here." Are you trying to make me cry? Sheesh, I got something g in my eye. Love the intro at the beginning. The story holds up on its own, but that added the extra spice. B

  • Jay Kantor2 months ago

    Mi Bonita 'Signora' ~ ¿Puedo invitarte to tea envuelto en un acogedor. Solo un Viejo en l.a.

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    I heard about this, and some spots in Montréal have tried this. Thank you for advertising this!

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