Latest from Latin America: Changing the world with “suspended” coffee

The piece below on an Argentian entrepreneur was translated and edited from the original Spanish version on the blog of our Spanish site, Idealistas

Around Easter, this image of a man sipping coffee (paired with a short story by Italian Tonino Guerra) spread like wildfire through social networks across the globe. Thousands shared the photo and ‘liked’ it on Facebook. Sol Verdier, a mother and graphic designer, decided to go further.

When she saw the picture and read the story behind the photo, she thought, “I can do something more.”  So she founded the Argentine initiative “Un Café Pendiente” (or, “Suspended Coffee”), a movement encouraging coffee shop regulars to buy an extra coffee to be “on hold” for a customer who can’t afford to buy a cup.

By simply placing recognizable stickers on the outside of participating shops—and encouraging homeless shelters, churches, and other communities to spread the word—Sol can help those in need connect with customers willing to help.

Sol Verdier, founder of the Argentina initiative, Un Café Pendiente

Sol Verdier, founder of the Argentina initiative, Un Café Pendiente

While she’s not the first to be inspired by the story and start up her own version (check out the others popping up around the world), Sol is the first to bring the idea to Argentina.

After two months, and almost 30,000 supporters on her Facebook page, Sol tells us the story of how she went from intention to action:

What was it that led to the idea of creating Un Café Pendiente? Where did you see a problem, a lack?

Un Café Pendiente was born in Naples, Italy, when a Neapolitan man, Tonino Guerra, paid for two cups of coffee instead of one, one for him and one for an impoverished man. It began as a tradition and soon became a project in cities across Europe.

So I began. I drafted a project, set up a website so anyone anywhere in the world can download all the info on how to start a replicable movement in their community, and started a Facebook page to start spreading the idea.

A few days later, after I convinced some friends that own coffee companies to join, “likes” slowly began to appear.

What moved you to take action?

As a child, I went on missions to Chaco several times and participated in various solidarity movements. Today, with a job and a child, it’s more complicated. I saw this project as an opportunity to help everyone.

How do you feel devoting your time to a cause like this?

Happy and exhausted! I love being part of this initiative and, frankly, I’m surprised the impact it had in such a short time. I’m hoping to get a group of people organized to better distribute tasks and continue my work so I can be a mother again!

To learn more about Sol’s project and find out how to start your own suspended coffee program, visit www.uncafependiente.com.ar or the international network, www.coffeesharing.com.

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