The Suspended Coffee

– contributed by Lord Gyan Guru

Italy is known for many things, its artistic sense, and its architecture, its fine dining restaurants, the Vatican City, and as the birth place of Ferrari. However, one fact very few know is their inclination towards coffee. There is almost one coffee shop for every 490 Italians, according to survey results released from Italy’s leading coffee brand.

Nearly 90% of Italian families drink coffee at home. For others, there are bartenders who relish the coffee-making art and take pride in putting meticulous creations in a cup forward even before the customer can begin to complain about their hard day at work.

You may have heard of Espresso, but ask for it in an Italian café and, unless you have done your homework, you might find yourself tongue-tied. The barista will ask you, “Which one would you prefer? Corretto, or Schiumato, or Macchiato, or Ristretto, or Lungo” putting you in an awkward situation.

But there is more to the coffee connoisseurs than meets the eye. One cloudy winter morning in Italy, I arrived at a corner café in east Naples to take delight in their fine coffee. Ahead of me in the queue were a couple of others; they ordered, “5 coffee, 2 for us, 3 suspended.”

It was my turn, I said, “One Cappuccino, by the way what is this suspended coffee?”

The cashier said, “You’ll see.”

More customers poured in, two girls walked up and said, “2 Espressos”. They paid just like I did.

I looked at the cashier puzzled, he asked me to have patience.

Three lawyers walked up and asked for 8 coffees and said, “3 for us, 5 suspended.”

He pointed to the display which now read 8.

I was about to take the first sip of my coffee, when a woman walked in. Dressed in layers of clothes that could be decades old, I was a little confused that she would choose to buy at a coffee shop which I reckoned was comparatively pricy. She asked, “Can I have one of the suspended coffees?”

She was immediately handed a dense espresso, which arrived steaming on the granite counter.

She lingered over the aroma, and then knocked it back in one quick sip.

He looked at me and said, “It is a simple and anonymous act of generosity, it is a little treat that nobody should miss.”  He raised his eyebrows and deducted one from the display to 7.

“caffè sospeso” (meaning The Suspended Coffee)

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