Suspended Coffees with Emmeline Duncan and a #giveaway

By Liz, welcoming Emmeline Duncan back to the blog! And she’s talking about one of my favorite things – coffee. And doing a giveaway. I mean, what could be better? Take it away, Emmeline!

A while back, I dropped into a local coffee shop to write. As I walked in, something I saw made me smile: their suspended coffee board had a couple of items, including a bowl of oatmeal and a breakfast burrito.

Wait, oatmeal is coffee? And what’s this about a Suspended Coffee?

Oatmeal is definitely not coffee, but it can be included on a Suspended Coffee board. Once upon a time, in Naples, Italy, customers would order a “caffè sospeso” from their local shop. This means they would buy two espressos: one to drink and the second “suspended,” meaning someone else could come and claim the second drink. This was all done anonymously.

Then, in March 2013, John M Sweeney read about caffè sospeso and turned it into an international movement with participating cafes worldwide. Patrons can pre-buy anything the participating café wants to include—coffee, food, etc.—and then someone down on their luck can claim the item.

As mentioned on the Suspended Coffee website, you can never know who will claim the coffee or food item. Maybe it’ll be someone homeless. Or it’ll be the guy dressed for a job interview who looks sharp—but has been interviewing for jobs for three months as he struggles to afford the basics. Or a single mother struggling to make it until her next payday. No one judges the worthiness of who claims the items; the shops trust that if someone requests one of the items, they need it to brighten their day.

One thing I appreciate about this program is how it supports both coffee shops and people down on their luck. If you run a cafe, you can’t spend your days giving out free products, even if you’d like to help. So when your customers buy food donations, it brightens someone in the community’s day while supporting the café.

When I started writing the Ground Rules series, I decided my protagonist, Sage, should have a Suspended Coffee board. I’d first seen this program at a Portland coffee cart, Ole Latte, and I knew my fictional coffee shop owner would be an enthusiastic supporter of the program.

Readers: Have you seen a Suspended Coffee board in your community? Comment on this post to be entered to win a copy of Flat White Fatality and swag!

Like her Ground Rules Mystery series, Emmeline Duncan is based in Portland, Oregon. Her series includes Fresh Brewed MurderDouble Shot Death, and Flat White Fatality, which came out on May 23rd. You can track her online at or on Instagram and Facebook at @writeremmelineduncan and Twitter @DuncanEmmeline.

 About Flat White Fatality :
To top off her coffee business, Sage is now helping out with her boyfriend Bax’s gaming company. Conveniently for Sage, it’s located next door to her Ground Rules Roastery. That makes it easy for her to pitch in with Bax’s employee team-building event. The plan is to boost morale with a scavenger hunt. And it seems to be going well—until Robbie, a programmer known for being a prankster, turns up dead in Sage’s roastery . . .

There are two suspects so far: Sage, who has no idea how the victim ended up in her space; and Bax, who was allegedly spotted arguing with Robbie the day before. But could it be a disgruntled employee? After all, Robbie’s sense of humor was known to have rubbed some coworkers the wrong way. Now, it’s up to Sage to find the culprit—before another life grinds to a halt.

39 Thoughts

  1. I’ve never seen or heard of a suspended coffee board before. But what a great idea. Here in SW FL after Hurricane Ian a lot of people are still homeless, their homes are not safe to live in and the way the insurance companies treat people should be a crime. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. What a fabulous practice, Emmaline, and congratulations on the new book. I hadn’t heard that term. Where I live, people buying coffee in a drive-through sometimes pay for the person after them, too. And back when we had toll booths on the highway, my sister would always pay her toll and for the car behind her. It’s a similarly anonymous and big-hearted gesture.

    I can imagine ways the Suspended coffee board could be twisted in a murder mystery! Have you had someone leave a clue on it?

    1. I’ve thought about this before, and I prefer Suspended Coffees to Play It Forward orders. ‘Cause when Playing It Forward, the person was going to buy coffee, etc, regardless. But Suspended Coffees help people who would otherwise go hungry.

      I haven’t had someone leave a clue on a suspended coffee board, but that’s an idea!

  3. What an interesting history of the suspended coffee board. I am more familiar with the term pay it forward, but whatever you call it, it is a wonderful idea. Anybody can use it to brighten somebody’s day, and maybe even provide a desperately needed meal. No need to enter me in the giveaway. I just wanted to comment. But I will post this in author Ellie Alexander’s Facebook fan club. I know Emmeline is one of the authors participating in the Ashland Mystery Fest in October. I can’t attend but I know people who are that are wanting to read some of the cozy authors they haven’t read yet. So it seems like a good fit. 🙂

    1. I am SO EXCITED for the Ashland Mystery Festival! It’s going to be a blast.

      Ashland is a beautiful small town and really, the only to make it better is to create a mystery for visitors to solve, like the festival is doing. 🙂

  4. Although I haven’t heard of a suspension board personally, it is a fabulous idea. What a way to help out two people with very little cost and no effort on your part. I would definitely do it if I saw one. Even in a small town like I live, I know it would be beneficial. Our small businesses need all the help they can get, especially in the off months of our tourist town, and there are many patrons that it would be a big help to as well. Being down on your luck, doesn’t mean you are out begging or have a certain look. I’ve been there and there’s no crime in needing a little help to get you back up – as long as your are trying.

    Thank you for the wonderful chance to win a copy of “Flat White Fatality” along with some swag. IT’s on my Goodreads TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. One thing I appreciate about the Suspended Coffee movement’s website is that they point out you can’t always tell who need a bit of extra help. I grew up in a small town with a strong tourist trade and like you said, the offseason can be rough for people dependent on visitors. Small ways to help are a great idea (like a warm meal or a cup of coffee and place to sit for an hour.)

  5. No, I’ve not heard of that, but it’s a cool idea! I’ve done the “pay it forward” and bought a coffee for the vehicle behind me at Dunkin’ Donuts, though – it’s fun when multiple people in a row do that, too.

  6. What a grand idea is “caffè sospeso”! Such a low cost way to pay it forward. I have paid tabs for people sitting alone and looking forlorn in restaurants, but that can be an expensive way to give back. A coffee and a muffin would be a better way to go. I just wish our little village had a coffee shop. As for the new book, “Flat White Fatality”, sounds very intriguing. I just put it on my list of “must reads”. Part of my job at work is motivational ideas for the company. Going to have to check this out. 🙂

    1. It’s such a fantastic, and small stakes, way to give back. I wish more places had suspended coffee boards!

    1. That is so cool, Emmeline! I’ve not heard of a suspended coffee board before. What a fabulous concept. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Emmeline. Welcome back to the blog. I never knew there was a name for this practice. (From Barb, writing from the other Portland.)

  8. I have never heard of that before but what a great idea!

    Congratulations on the new release. I can not wait to read it.

  9. I don’t drink coffee, but Hubby Dearest does. But I have never heard of this either but have heard (as many others above commented) of pay it forward. It is a great idea. I would love your book. Just because I don’t drink coffee doesn’t mean that I don’t like to read books with coffee shops in them. I love them.

    1. You could also buy a tea or cocoa on a suspended coffee board! Or oatmeal or a breakfast burrito, like the shop by my house. 🙂

  10. I’ve never seen or heard of a suspended coffee board before – great idea.

  11. I have never seen or heard of this, but I sure would be a big supporter. We have to get the word out! I’m not familiar with your series, but I”m a huge fan of good coffee and good cozies, so it’s time I visit my indie bookstore, again!

  12. What a super idea-thanks for sharing about it. Thank you to the blog for introducing me to Emmeline and her series- I will definitely be checking it out.

  13. No, I have never heard of a suspended coffee board. What I concept!

  14. I haven’t heard of this idea but love it. We have very few coffee shops and this is a grand concept.

  15. A suspended coffee board would be so popular and beneficial. I hope that other cafes adopt this practice. Your book sounds captivating.

  16. I have never seen or heard of a suspended coffee board, but what a great idea! I would definitely contribute if I had the chance. It would be nice to help someone out, especially if I didn’t know who was the person who needed it.

  17. I am in love with the idea of a suspended coffee board! Thank you for explaining it. My husband and I travel full time in an RV, so you can bet I’ll be looking for cafés where I can share the love this way.

  18. I haven’t heard of it before. Also don’t drink coffee or go to coffee shops. It sounds like a good idea, though.

  19. How cool! No, I have not heard of this before but I think it is a wonderful idea.

  20. No. I have never seen a suspended coffee board in my community. In the past when I was working, I went into a store daily. I would give the manager some extra money to pay for coffee for other. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  21. I have not seen a suspended board, but what a great idea. The closest I’ve seen was the Panera who would let people pay what what they could afford

  22. I saw one of these boards in a neighborhood restaurant last month. I had never heard of this idea before. What a wonderful anonymous way to help someone!

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