Paying it forward

A new ‘pay it forward’ phenomena has arrived in the Valley with a Traralgon cafe joining forces with a Melbourne-based program.

Mint Cafe and Salad Bar has signed up to the Suspended Coffee Society which provides free coffees to people who cannot afford them.

The program works by customers paying for a coffee in advance, with future customers then able to be provided with a coffee at no cost.

According to the society, any cafe or restaurant can join, with the only requirements being that all cafes make the number of suspended coffees available visually and if anyone comes into the cafe and asks for a suspended coffee, there is to be no judgement at all.

Mint Cafe and Salad Bar owner Marina McInnes displays the amount of free coffees available on a light box in the cafe with the current number being 35.

At $3.40 per coffee, Ms McInnes said it was an easy way of giving to those in need.

“If people are struggling or things are a bit tight, you become isolated because you cut out things like going out for a coffee or going out for a meal,” Ms McInnes said.

“So to be able to come down if things are tight, you get out and (donating) is a bit more social opposed to putting money in a tin and not knowing where it’s going.

“We’re in the process of getting cards that we’ll give out to social workers and charity organisations so that they can hand them out to people who can use them.”

The program is based on a tradition stemming back to Naples in Italy.

“If someone thought that they had good fortune they would buy themselves a coffee and then they would buy another coffee to give to somebody else and pass that luck on,” Ms McInnes said.

“It’s not just about being able to afford it, we don’t judge who can have a coffee and who can’t, if you come in and we have Suspended Coffees available then we can say ‘yeah you can’, you might have left your purse at home or something.”

In Victoria there are currently 80 cafes offering Suspended Coffees which the society described as “amazing since we only started this on 29 March 2013”.

To register your cafe or to find more information you can visit