Everybody knows that coffee is one of the most popular elements of the Neapolitan tradition, but it is not commonly known that there is a little story behind it, better known as the “suspended coffee”‘s tradition. But when did it take place?
History of the suspended coffee
There are many legends about the presence of coffee in Naples, but it is only at the beginning of the 19th century that it is really attested, thanks to the first coffee peddlers. They went around the city with two big containers (one full of coffee, the other full of milk), shouting at the people out there in order to sell their product. These figures are now disappeared, but they still play an important role inside the Neapolitan culture. The usage of the “suspended coffee” started during the Second World War, when, in very hard times, people used to pay two cups of coffee: one for themselves and the other for someone who couldn’t afford it. To the question: “Would you like a cup of coffee, sir?” people used to answer with joy and happiness, also asking themselves when entered for a cup of coffee to give back.
The “suspended coffee” today
It is for this reason that nowadays this tradition has spread, not only in Naples, but also in the rest of Italy ad of the world. In 2010, in fact, Gambrinus cafè, for the celebration of its 150 years of activity restored this act of kindness, in order to reintroduce one of the most important customs of the Partenopean culture. Also, the writer and philosopher Luciano De Crescenzo, in a book entitled indeed: “Il caffè sospeso”, wrote:
“When someone is happy in Naples, instead of paying a cup of coffee for himself, he just pays another one for someone else; it’s like offering a cup of coffee to the rest of the world..”
The tradition of the “suspended coffee”, then, represents the humanity, the amazing feeling of love, comprehension, compassion, kindness and all the positive feelings that are part of this city and that we mustn’t forget.