Penny Elliott and Juan Villa of Café Pichilingue have joined the Suspended Coffee program. Patrons to the Ross Street café can participate by buying a coffee or food item for someone in need.

Buy a coffee, for later

The owners of a downtown coffee shop hope a pay-it-forward style coffee campaign will catch on and spread throughout Red Deer.

The owners of a downtown coffee shop hope a pay-it-forward style coffee campaign will catch on and spread throughout Red Deer.

When people come into Cafe Pichilingue, 4928 Ross St., they can purchase a “suspended coffee,” or a meal for a coupon.

Those coupons are in turn donated to local non-profits who then give them to someone in need.

Penny Elliott said so far they have given these coupons to Loaves and Fishes, Food not Bombs and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“We just started it last Monday and we’ve given out numerous coupons,” said Elliott.

“We hope to get to many different places like that, so they can hand them out to people they feel need a break or a coffee.”

Since they started they have given out more than 30 coffees.

“My hope is to get other restaurants and coffee shops on board,” said Elliott.

“Not just in downtown. Less fortunate people live all over the city, so I’m hoping businesses all over Red Deer would do it.”

Another hope for the program is to get tokens made up, rather than just the simple paper coupons currently used at Cafe Pichilingue.

Making the tokens the same all over and so that they could be used anywhere.

Suspended coffee has its origins in Naples, Italy with people paying double the regular amount for a coffee for someone else.

It has caught on throughout the world.

According to the Suspended Coffees Facebook page, which has almost 250,000 likes, the goal of the campaign is to have one-third of the world’s coffee shops offer suspended coffee by 2023.

“I know every time I give, I feel happy and the person receiving it feels happy,” said Elliott, adding regular customers who hear about the idea react positively.

“They love it, they absolutely love it. Yesterday I had a couple of people come in who just, automatically, bought suspended coffees.”

Just before Christmas people purchased hundreds of coffees at Tim Hortons across Alberta.

“People were so excited and so happy and if people could do that every day, that would be nice,” said Elliott.

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