cafe culture

Pay it forward Japanese style

Kottke.org linked to this guy’s Japanese holiday story about a cool cafe concept.

They guy bought an orange juice – and was given an apple cider and bag of lollies… he was confused, and asked the cafe staff what had happened. The cafe had this rule”

At this cafe, you get what the person before you ordered. The next person gets what you ordered.

Which is pretty bizarre.

Before they left the guys who found this place got into the spirit of things.

“Mike went up to the cafe, slapped down a couple thousand yen (~$25), and ordered a little bit of everything: some ice cream, some snacks, some candy, some drinks, a Japanese horn-of-mysterious-plenty intentionally set up as a shocking surprise for the next lucky customer. (After his order, Mike received single iced coffee.)

As we walked away from the cafe, with just the right amount of delay, we heard an extremely excited “arigato goazimasu!! thank you so much!!” yelled in our direction, from an ecstatic mom and her equally excited young son. They truly appreciated the surprise.”

Here’s a translation of the rules from the cafe…

  1. Let’s treat the next person. What to treat them with? It’s your choice.
  2. Even if it’s a group of friends or a family, please form a single-file line. Also, you can’t buy twice in a row.
  3. Please enjoy what you get, even if you hate it. (If you really, really hate it, let’s quietly give it to another while saying, “It’s my treat…”)
  4. Let’s say “Thank You! (Gochihosama)” if you find the person with your Ogori cafe card.
  5. We can’t issue a receipt.

Pay it forward: caffe sospeso

There’s a bit of a movement in the coffee scene to truly distinguish cafes as a “third place” – a safe haven from home or the office. It’s a nice idea. It’s in keeping with the traditional Italian cafe culture – which you can read a bit about here – in this article.

Here’s a nice little “pay it forward” aspect of coffee culture:

It is not uncommon for a contented patron to pay for two cups of espresso when he gets to the cashier—one for himself and one as an offering to humanity, or to the guy lucky enough to be next in line. This extra coffee is commonly referred to as a caffè sospeso, or a dangling espresso.

And here’s what Italians apparently think of my predilection for cappuccinos…

“There is, however, one rule that holds true throughout the peninsula: a cappuccino is only a breakfast drink. No self-respecting Italian would be caught dead sipping on a cup of hot milk with a splash of coffee anytime after the mid-day meal.”

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