Buy two now, give one to someone in need

A Lochalsh cafe is the first in the Highlands to sign up to the Suspended Coffees scheme which sees people make an anonymous act of charity to help those in need.

The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples in Italy, where someone who had experienced good luck would pay for two coffees but only consume one — leaving the other “suspended” until someone in need asked for a coffee. While falling into decline after the Second World War, the scheme has been re-adopted around the world in recent years, and as of this week is available at Beth’s Coffee Shop in Balmacara Square.

Owner Elizabeth Morrison explained: “Someone comes in and buys two coffees, one of which is suspended, and if there is someone in need of a coffee or who can’t afford a coffee for various reasons, they can come in and ask if there are any suspended coffees available and they will get it.

“People could also pay for a sandwich, a bowl of soup or cake and a cup of tea. If there is a good response and — say we have 15 or 20 coffees or a mixture of things — we could get a group to come in and enjoy it. We have two groups who come in regularly, Am Fasgaidh in Portree and the Aird Ferry dementia support group from Dornie. These people pay for themselves, so it would be nice to treat them once in a while.”

To kick-start the scheme, Elizabeth has donated the first 20 coffees or teas herself and will carry on the scheme for as long as there is a need. Beth’s Coffee Shop is the only establishment in the Highlands to have signed up to Suspended Coffees.

Elizabeth added: “I have spoken to John Murdo MacDonald at Christians Against Poverty in Kyle and he is going to work with them to raise awareness among those who may need it about the scheme as well. I didn’t really think there would be a need locally but there is, so if people have been made unemployed or are just struggling, they can come out and get a hot drink. It’s a win-win situation.”

Elizabeth Morrison is pictured above with Margaret MacDonald and Angela Shedden