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The Neapolitan custom of caffè sospeso brings a community-minded meaning to “two cups a day.”

Naples, the capital of Italy’s southern region of Campania, isn’t too different from the rest of the nation when it comes to its reverence for coffee. Wherever you are in the country, you’ll witness the daily pilgrimage to espresso bars if you’re up early enough. Countless commuters—whether they’re in suits, hard hats or high heels—stream in and out of the infinite cafés, seamlessly reentering the street’s flow of foot traffic with brighter eyes and pastries in hand.

But something unusual sometimes happens to coffee orders in Naples. Instead of the standard request for un caffè, it often becomes due—customers order two coffees instead of one. They drink the first and request the other as a caffè sospeso, a “suspended coffee” that remains in limbo as a pending order, waiting to be claimed by other coffee drinkers who may not be able to afford a cup of their own. Anyone may inquire if there is a caffè

  • Words:
    Anna Perling
  • Illustration:
    Katrin Coetzer

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  • Words:
    Anna Perling
  • Illustration:
    Katrin Coetzer
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