Sylvia Poggioli (via Kyle Steed) tells the story for NPR about coffee shops all over Europe that offer caffè sospeso, or suspended coffee. Suspended coffee is when a customer comes in for a cup of coffee and they pay for two so that someone else can have a drink for free.

The barista would keep a log, and when someone popped his head in the doorway of the cafe and asked, “Is there anything suspended?” the barista would nod and serve him a cup of coffee … for free.

It’s an elegant way to show generosity: an act of charity in which donors and recipients never meet each other, the donor doesn’t show off and the recipient doesn’t have to show gratitude.

There is a Coffee Sharing website with a list of all the shops that do Suspended Coffee. And then there’s a coffee shop in Kentucky that offers a similar model, but with a twist. At A Cup of Common Wealth customers can buy a specific drink for a specific person or type of person. Such as “a medium coffee for a a middle school teacher” or “an iced latte for an Alaskan traveler”.

Suspended Coffee