Cafe in Forest Gate first in London to join coffee scheme for homeless

Tom Gray and manager Hettie Clarke behind the counter at Coffee7, Forest Gate.

Tom Gray and manager Hettie Clarke behind the counter at Coffee7, Forest Gate. - Credit: Archant

A cafe has become the first and only in London to introduce a scheme offering people in need a free cappuccino.

Coffee7, which opened in Sebert Road, opposite Forest Gate station in January, introduced a concept last month whereby customers can pay for an extra hot beverage that they don’t drink —instead leaving it to be claimed by someone who is homeless or broke.

The scheme called suspended coffee began in Italy and has been joined by cafes around the world, including around 150 British venues.

It is based on good faith, both by the stores and the recipients. Anyone can enter a café and ask for a “suspended coffee”.

Manager at Coffee7, Hettie Clarke, said: “One of our customers mentioned the idea on Facebook and someone here mentioned it to a customer who bought an extra coffee there and then.”

Within a week of them spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter more than 50 coffees had been saved up on the tally behind the counter, she said. And around 20 people have already claimed a free coffee.

She said it is mostly local people taking up the offer as a way of embracing the community. But after the cafe received media coverage from the scheme people from elsewhere have also come to buy a suspended coffee.

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So far most of the people who have come in to claim a suspended coffee have come from a refuge programme, run by the Newham Community Renewal Programme based in the same road, after staff at the cafe invited them in while only a couple of people have wandered in off the street.

Hettie said: “It evokes a sense of community and gives people in need another place where they can feel safe and not have questions asked.

So far they are not aware of anyone abusing their goodwill.

Hettie said: “If it becomes an issue then we would have to work out how to tackle it.”

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