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Thread: Suspended coffee - Pay it forward at a cafe level

  1. #1
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Suspended coffee - Pay it forward at a cafe level

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Article in The Age today (I'm sure it's on all the fairfax sites).
    The idea is essentially to pre-pay a coffee for someone who cannot perhaps afford it themselves at participating cafes.
    These cafes will then dispense any 'suspended coffees' to people who come in and ask.
    Not sure about the finer details of eligibility to redeem, but I still like the idea.

    This has been discussed here before, but I thought it was worth mentioning again as it seems there might be a bit of groundswell behind this one.

    Have a coffee and buy one for the needy

    Brett.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Oh dear, the cynic in me sees this as another attempt by cafe owners to boost sales, no altruistic motives here, the cafe's involved are taking money for services/products not yet provided, good idea.
    Retailers are always coming up with idea's to winkle an extra dollar out of the customers pocket, at least this one is original, and, of course it plays the emotional trump card (help someone less fortunate than yourself)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Customer - Spend a few bucks to feel better about yourself? Not a new concept and if people want to do that I'm not gonna argue.
    Cafe - Increase sales and get people to pay money in advance for a product that may or may not be claimed (however unlikely it is that supply>demand for free coffee)? If people will swallow that, I'm not gonna argue.

    I would make the point that in a country with an attitude of middle-class welfare you're unlikely to end up helping the needy.

    Whether or not coffee is the best use of funds directed at the needy is another argument, but I wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to just have a fundraising box that goes towards a coffee-machine and coffee at the local drop-in centre.

  4. #4
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Well, it's hardly original. As the article states, it is based on an idea that started in Naples 10 years ago.

    I fully understand that people may be cynical about the motives, the execution, the logistics etc. , but how about we actually try something like this before we condemn it?

  5. #5
    TC
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    The concept of Caffè sospeso is not a new idea and appears to have originated in Naples..

    If it means that someone who can't afford one receives one, it's a good thing for both cafe owner and the purchaser.

    Much too much I'm alright bugger you Jack these days....

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy_1999 View Post
    I fully understand that people may be cynical about the motives, the execution, the logistics etc. , but how about we actually try something like this before we condemn it?
    Would you say the same thing about an open-lid donation jar into which people could give and out of which people could take? Potential flaws don't need to be demonstrated before they're noted.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I don't know whether it is the most effective way to help people, but I sure as hell won't criticise anyone who is actually having a go.....we do what we can I guess.

  8. #8
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Would you say the same thing about an open-lid donation jar into which people could give and out of which people could take? Potential flaws don't need to be demonstrated before they're noted.
    I'm not saying there are not potential flaws, I'm saying that if you go in thinking it will fail, then it WILL fail.

    The concept of an open-lid donation jar does exist to a small extent in the USA. They call it a 'Leave a penny, need a penny'.
    The idea is that when you need a couple of cents to stop you getting a pocket full of change, you can grab some and if you have a few you don't need, then leave them behind.
    I know this suggestion is larger scale, but I cannot see why, as a society, we should not at least try to do something that could just be considered as 'nice'. It's not going to turn people's lives around, but for the cost of one cup of coffee, you might make a miserable day for someone a bit more bearable.

    I'm at least willing to give it a go if I am in a participating cafe. If I lose ~$4 to someone who is 'not worthy', then so be it.

    Brett.

  9. #9
    Senior Member coffeechris's Avatar
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    Cynical about it or not to me isn't the issue here....

    If the Cafe does boost sales due to adopting this idea so be it.. Boosted sales and profit aside its doing something for possibly someone who maybe less fortunate than many in this world.. I have heard this before and i still think its a great idea. Thanks for posting it

    Do we question people who market their business by offering a percentage of profits to much needed organisations? ?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    FWIW, I'm not telling anyone not to do it; it's a personal choice and just because I don't believe it is the best use/administration of charitable funds doesn't mean I expect anyone else to base their decisions on that.

    Personally I'm more inclined to offer a cup of coffee to someone who looks in rough shape on a cold day, but once again, that's just my choice.

  11. #11
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    coffee, at least at the prices paid in this country, is a 'luxury' item. i'm not sure that buying luxury items is the best form of charity.

    you know what I kinda want to do? roast a few kgs of beans, get an ok grinder, and try to upgrade the coffee served at driver reviver rest stops.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    Weirdly, my wife and I were at the pub for lunch and she brought this up. She is an author and also works online and it came up in one of her searches.

    A smart cafe owner would put up a board and mark up suspended coffees versus coffees given. Anybody purchasing would mark up their suspended coffee and those receiving could mark off the one they got. This would add to involvement of the patrons.

    As for giving coffees to the poor and needy - much better some nice coffee than another fanta mixed with metho...
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  13. #13
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    Suspended coffee - Pay it forward at a cafe level

    I'd buy into the altruism of the cafe owners a lot more if the suspended coffee was at or close to cost. (Maybe it is?)

    Why should the cafe owner make her margin on the suspended coffee? I'm not asking them to subsidise it, and I'm happy for them to include wages, rent, etc in the cost, just don't add the $1 or whatever of owner's profit in the price.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    I'd buy into the altruism of the cafe owners a lot more if the suspended coffee was at or close to cost. (Maybe it is?)

    Why should the cafe owner make her margin on the suspended coffee? I'm not asking them to subsidise it, and I'm happy for them to include wages, rent, etc in the cost, just don't add the $1 or whatever of owner's profit in the price.
    Very good point Jonathon.

  15. #15
    Senior Member yabba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    I'd buy into the altruism of the cafe owners a lot more if the suspended coffee was at or close to cost. (Maybe it is?)

    Why should the cafe owner make her margin on the suspended coffee? I'm not asking them to subsidise it, and I'm happy for them to include wages, rent, etc in the cost, just don't add the $1 or whatever of owner's profit in the price.
    I agree with the sentiment however its not as easy as you think it might be as there are roll on effects that will affect the owner beyond the obvious. The first one and to me most important from my perspective would be the impact on their P&L's. Without wanting to start an accounting thread the value in their business is dictated by the profitability as shown on their ledgers. Effectively they would be showing increase Costs of Goods sold without increased (Profit ) revenue decreasing their profit ratio's and hence impact on the value of their business be it for sale or not. The point I raise is that a business and its profits and costs are a balancing act and often not literal - By that I mean the cost of a coffee is split between Costs of goods sold and overheads so to determine the actual coffee cost inst precise to the cup but to an average retrospectively.

    Add to this cost the potential impact on paying customers such as that while serving a discounted coffee the perceived service level from waiting longer and the impact on their future patronage may be affected. There are a lot of immeasurable components and as such the philosophical arguments go round and round.

    All I am saying is that a person in business donates to charities like the rest of us but their business is their livelihoods. The easiest thing is for us to buy a coffee and give it to someone or make every coffee served equal price. Oh and just to add a little credit back to the cafe's, if they were to implement such a system they would be donating extra time in managing the system.

    Just my Two Cents

    Cheers Yabba

    Now back to researching roasting, my next (popper) adventure..
    Last edited by yabba; 8th April 2013 at 07:50 PM.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yabba View Post
    I agree with the sentiment however its not as easy as you think it might be as there are roll on effects that will affect the owner beyond the obvious. The first one and to me most important from my perspective would be the impact on their P&L's. Without wanting to start an accounting thread the value in their business is dictated by the profitability as shown on their ledgers. Effectively they would be showing increase Costs of Goods sold without increased (Profit ) revenue decreasing their profit ratio's and hence impact on the value of their business be it for sale or not. The point I raise is that a business and its profits and costs are a balancing act and often not literal - By that I mean the cost of a coffee is split between Costs of goods sold and overheads so to determine the actual coffee cost inst precise to the cup but to an average retrospectively.

    Add to this cost the potential impact on paying customers such as that while serving a discounted coffee the perceived service level from waiting longer and the impact on their future patronage may be affected. There are a lot of immeasurable components and as such the philosophical arguments go round and round.

    All I am saying is that a person in business donates to charities like the rest of us but their business is their likelihoods. The easiest thing is for us to buy a coffee and give it to someone or make every coffee served equal price. Oh and just to add a little credit back to the cafe's, if they were to implement such a system they would be donating extra time in managing the system.

    Just my Two Cents

    Cheers Yabba

    Now back to researching roasting, my next (popper) adventure..

    Very well said!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    If I took a homeless person in to a cafe and asked for a coffee for him, I wouldn't expect not to pay the profit margin - I'd expect to pay what I would pay for myself. I understand the point about the profits, but the suspended coffee is a donation by the BUYER, not the seller. If the owner wishes to give free or cheap coffee to the indigent population that is a different choice. Suspended coffees should not force the owner to pay just because i want to buy someone a coffee.
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  18. #18
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    Look, if a person wants to buy a 'suspended coffee' at a cafe so that the cafe will give it to a person in need, then they can, but I won't be.

    I prefer to give my money to an established charity - not a for-profit organisation such as a cafe - so that the majority of my donation is used to give food, clothing & shelter to people in need, not just a cup of coffee.

    Also, I'm highly suspicious of suspended coffees public nature. That is, the person buying the suspended coffee presumably gains something by being seen to be giving and, in reverse, if you don't buy a suspended coffee then you're viewed differently.

    Again people can do their donations how they see fit, but I won't be involved in some kind of 'social charity-upmanship' by being seen to doing the right thing. In this case, I prefer my donations to be private, not public.

    It's the same for me for the now prevalent form of fund raising, in which you get something in return for or to acknowledge your donation - a pen, a cup, a ribbon, a wristband, a poppy or some other token that shows you have donated. I just think the costs of producing these things is such a waste. A regular, ongoing donation of cash to a charity gives the charity to direct the funds where they're needed and the flexibility to change that given changing needs.

    I don't want to discourage people from making a donation. Please make them and please also think about how to make your donation most accessible to those who need it.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allegrimis View Post
    Look, if a person wants to buy a 'suspended coffee' at a cafe so that the cafe will give it to a person in need, then they can, but I won't be.

    I prefer to give my money to an established charity - not a for-profit organisation such as a cafe - so that the majority of my donation is used to give food, clothing & shelter to people in need, not just a cup of coffee.

    Also, I'm highly suspicious of suspended coffees public nature. That is, the person buying the suspended coffee presumably gains something by being seen to be giving and, in reverse, if you don't buy a suspended coffee then you're viewed differently.

    Again people can do their donations how they see fit, but I won't be involved in some kind of 'social charity-upmanship' by being seen to doing the right thing. In this case, I prefer my donations to be private, not public.

    It's the same for me for the now prevalent form of fund raising, in which you get something in return for or to acknowledge your donation - a pen, a cup, a ribbon, a wristband, a poppy or some other token that shows you have donated. I just think the costs of producing these things is such a waste. A regular, ongoing donation of cash to a charity gives the charity to direct the funds where they're needed and the flexibility to change that given changing needs.

    I don't want to discourage people from making a donation. Please make them and please also think about how to make your donation most accessible to those who need it.
    Well said Alle, pretty much my feelings exactly, I'll donate to charities of my choice, and that wont be in the form of a cup of coffee in a cafe.
    As I said earlier my feeling is that the suspended coffee scheme is simply a thinly veiled attempt at boosting sales in what is currently a soft market.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Report on the BBC about it: BBC News - Would you buy a 'suspended coffee' for someone in need?


    Java "Hanging on the rim" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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    I prefer seeing things like tip jars that nominate a charity and have people make donations in that way. The suspended coffee thing won't work in all cafes because some of them just don't get the type of customer who needs a suspended coffee.

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    Hi All, I would like to make a comment here. I currently donate some of my time to help Suspended Coffee Melbourne. Suspended Coffee Melbourne is about to reach 100 cafes now participating in this movement. Suspended Coffee Melbourne also is now providing coffee vouchers to many charitable organisations ( at no cost to these organisations), such as St Vincent De Paul - The Salvation Army - Careforce - UnitingCare - Brotherhood of St Laurence just to name a few. There are so many kind hearted people willing to help those in need, Suspended Coffee Melbourne is a fantastic way for any one to be able to help others in a friendly manner - to offer a cup of kindness. The cafes that participate acknowledge the need in our community, and are helping to provide outlets for the generosity within our community. It is so easy to judge some one else's efforts to help others - a little harder it seems to try to make a difference. I would like to thank all those who have purchased their Cup Of Kindness. When you see how thankful and totaly humbled the recipients are, you then begin to realise just how much one small act of kindness can impact on a person.

    I hope many more Cafes get on board.....

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    Keep an eye out for "thank you" products at Coles (and most likely Woolworths too). Skin care, water, musli etc are the products - that's donation by way of receiving goods / feelings in exchange, similar to suspended coffees.

    I guess the take away here is that people that want to donate through official or more direct channels will continue to. These initiatives may be collecting donations from people that otherwise wouldn't. I don't think they scavenge donations from each other.

    If we want to look at the effectiveness of suspended, thankyou or official donations, that's an entirely different topic. NotForProfit relates to share holder profit, not the income of the business/organisation and its upto them how they distribute their funds (salary, cause, office, marketing, etc).

    As an example of effectiveness, Reddit users donated many more pizzas than necessary to one 2yo cancer victim, to the point where they needed to put out a cease and desist announcement to stop the flow of pizzas. Was it a waste at 20 pizzas? yes, I think so (except it did enable them to throw a pizza party for nurses and other patients). Were the givers intentions good? yes. Did it bring a smile or two - yes. Was it worth it? you decide, *then act*.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    This from WA today.

    Suspended coffees stockpiling in cafes

    Suspended coffees stockpiling in cafes



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