You may have seen mention of the “suspended coffees” phenomenon floating around the social media stratosphere of late.
In a nutshell, it is the practice of buying an extra cup of coffee, or food, along with your own purchase, and leaving it behind for someone in need.
Based on an Italian goodwill tradition, these small acts of kindness are now being carried out across the world at participating outlets.
Communities are springing up in the UK, Sheffield, Wales, South Korea, India and the States.
John Sweeney set up a page in Cork, Ireland, which has amassed more than 75,000 likes in the last month.
He told Huffington Post UK: "I've been blown away by the response to be honest, it's amazing. It's not just something for the homeless, it's for everyone who needs it. And you can do it with food, soup, whatever you want.
Coffee Could Save Your Brain
... Well, maybe. A study in the <em>Journal of Alzheimer's Disease</em> suggests that there's something in coffee - though researchers have yet to determine what exactly that "something" is - interacts with caffeine to boost the levels of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF), a growth factor that seems to be able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/coffee-could-ward-alzheimers_n_882931.html" target="_hplink">fight off Alzheimer's disease in mice</a>. The amount of coffee needed in the study is equivalent to about four or five cups of coffee for humans. Researchers said <a href="http://www.j-alz.com/press/2011/20110621.html" target="_hplink">GCSF likely has this effect</a> because it causes stem cells in the bone marrow to come into the brain and remove the beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. It also has a role in forming brain cell connections and creating new brain neurons, researchers said.
Coffee Could Lower Depression In Women
Women who drink a few cups of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/coffee-cuts-depression-women_n_982122.html" target="_hplink">caffeinated coffee have a lower risk of depression</a> than women who don't drink any coffee, according to a Harvard study. That research, published in the <em>Archives of Internal Medicine</em>, shows that women who drink two to three cups of coffee a day have a 15 percent lower risk, while women who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower risk. Study research Dr. Albert Ascherio <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/coffee-cuts-depression-women_n_982122.html" target="_hplink">told HuffPost</a> earlier that "caffeine is known to affect the brain," because it "modulates the release of mood transmitters." "I'm not saying we're on the path to discovering a new way to prevent depression," he said. "But I think you can be reassured that if you are drinking coffee, it is coming out as a positive thing."
Coffee Could Lower Men's Prostate Cancer Risk
A Harvard School of Public Health study shows that men who drink six cups of coffee a day have a 60% decreased <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/18/coffee-can-cut-prostate-c_n_863472.html" target="_hplink">chance of developing a dangerous form of prostate cancer</a>, as well as a 20% decreased chance of developing any other kinds of prostate cancer. The study, published in the <em>Journal of the National Cancer Institute</em>, also shows that just <a href="http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/05/17/jnci.djr151.abstract" target="_hplink">drinking just some coffee a day</a> - just one to three cups - could still cut prostate cancer risk by 30%.
Coffee Could Decrease Parkinson's Risk
Drinking <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182023" target="_hplink">a few cups of coffee a day</a> could lower the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by as much as 25%, according to a study published last year in the <em>Journal of Alzheimer's Disease</em>. In that review of studies, which was published in the <em>Journal of Alzheimer's Disease</em>, researchers examined 26 studies that involved 125,000 British people, to find that <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7815087/Coffee-can-cut-chances-of-developing-Parkinsons-disease-according-to-new-research.html" target="_hplink">two or three cups of coffee</a> seemed to have the optimal effect, <em>The Telegraph</em> reported.
Coffee Could Ward Off The World's Most Common Cancer
New research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference shows that coffee could help to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/coffee-most-common-cancer_n_1025089.html" target="_hplink">ward off basal cell carcinoma</a>, the most common cancer in the world. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that women who drink three or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day have a 20% lower risk of the skin cancer, while men had a 9% lower risk. Decaf coffee didn't seem to have the same protective effect -- so "our study shows that the inverse association with BCC appears due to caffeine, not other components in the coffee consumption," study researcher Fengju Song, Ph.D., earlier <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/coffee-most-common-cancer_n_1025089.html" target="_hplink">told HuffPost</a>.
Coffee Could Protect You From Type 2 Diabetes
Drinking coffee is associated with a <a href="http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/22/2053" target="_hplink">lower Type 2 diabetes risk</a>, with more coffee consumption linked to a greater decrease in risk, according to an <em>Archives of Internal Medicine</em> review of studies from 2009. In that review, researchers looked at data from more than 450,000 people in 18 studies, and found that for every extra cup of coffee drank a day, a person's risk of Type 2 diabetes decreased by 7%. However, researchers cautioned that "the putative <a href="http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/22/2053" target="_hplink">protective effects of these beverages</a> warrant further investigation in randomized trials."
Coffee (Or At Least, The Caffeine!) Can Help You Proofread Better
The caffeine in coffee could actually help you to <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-23154-001/" target="_hplink">spot grammar errors</a>, according to a new study in the <em>Journal of Experimental Psychology</em>. Researchers found that <a href="http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/26/8498728-tank-up-on-java-unleash-your-inner-editor-says-study?ocid=twitter" target="_hplink">caffeine helped students to correct errors</a> in subject-verb agreement and verb tense, MSNBC reported. However, the caffeine still didn't seem to make a difference at identifying misspelled words - sorry.
The benefits of coffee
"You can leave your coffee in the shop or you can ask for a token and give it to someone yourself like the poor old woman living on her own down the street.
"Basically it's about community spirit and helping those directly around you."
The BBC spoke to Hettie Clark at Forest Hill’s Coffee7 shop, which is taking part in the scheme.
She said: “The people who donate really vary. It can be business people, it can be mums with young kids.”
As well as the homeless and those down on their luck, the shop’s suspended coffees are also popular among refugees from a nearby centre.
And it’s not just the smaller shops that are taking part – coffee giant Starbucks recently signed up for the initiative.
Ian Cranna, vice-president of marketing at Starbucks UK told Marketing Magazine the campaign “will provide warmth and comfort for those looking for food or a hot cup of coffee.”
Will you be buying a suspended coffee for someone in need?