Monday, December 14, 2015


At work, coffee costs me a mere 25 cents a cup. It's not a lot, but then again, it's not great coffee.

But because it's only 25 cents, I don't mind buying a cup for somebody who finds himself or herself without a quarter. I don't mind paying it forward: that person is sure to do the same for me or someone else in the same situation.

I think it's nice to do that for people that I don't know, too. On rare occasions, I have paid for coffees, up front, for strangers, at Starbucks. And last week, I found that there are participating cafés that let you buy coffee for those who are not fortunate enough to indulge in a good cup of java.

There's a worldwide movement, called Suspended Coffee, where participating stores will let you buy a coffee, in advance. Anyone can redeem that coffee; as the site says, "the homeless man you pass every day on the street, a stressed student in the middle of exams, or a mom who needs a five minute break."

I like that.

In the Ottawa-Gatineau region, there are three cafés that are participating in the Suspended Coffee movement: Café Eddy, in Hull, The West End Well, in Westboro, and Francesco's Coffee Company, in the Glebe.

But the pay-it-forward idea isn't limited to this movement. Bread By Us, a bakery and coffee house in Westboro, also has a suspended plan, and it doesn't extend just to coffee. This local establishment also makes some fantastic artisan bread, and you can suspend a loaf or two for someone less fortunate.

I was at Bread By Us, yesterday, listening to a Sunday Serenade show, featuring the musical talent of my friend, Amanda Cottreau, and other wonderful, local musicians, and I learned that this shop participated in a suspended program.

While I enjoyed the show, I ordered a smoked-meat sandwich and an Americano coffee for myself, and 10 loaves of whole-wheat bread, suspended. I think I enjoyed that sandwich all the more, knowing that I was helping someone less fortunate than myself.

This time of year can be harder on those who struggle to make ends meet. If you can, find a store that participates in such a program and make a difference for others. If you own a café or a sandwich shop, consider enrolling in this worthwhile program. You've got nothing to lose.

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