As the weather begins to cool, people who are homeless and looking for a place to warm up now have somewhere to go for free hot coffee.
The opening of a new coffee house, called Witch’s Brew, has brought an Italian concept to the table that will impact the community. The Kick Down Coffee program allows customers to pay for food and coffee for a person who comes into the coffee house, but cannot afford to make a purchase.
“People want to help, and this way people can,” store manager Cory Minefee said. “If there is someone who is needy that comes into the coffee shop or any other place and asks for food, usually they get turned away.”
Thomas Makey, the Witch’s Brew key holder, said Kick Down Coffee originated in Naples, Italy. Other names used to refer to Kick Down Coffee are Caffe sospeso, suspended coffee, and a pending cup of coffee.
“Kick Down Coffee is a middle ground, and (people) entrust us with it so that people can have a safe space and there won’t be any controversy surrounding what is happening with the money,” Makey said.
Makey said some places took the concept of Kick Down Coffee further and sell pre-bought meals. Already, some customers buy Kick Down Coffee on a regular basis.
Kick Down Coffee is an option offered to the 578,424 people who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States, according to EndHomelessness.org. Other options include Project Share and St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, which are presented on the cabq.gov website for meal services.
Father Graham R. Golden, a former housing case manager from Chicago and Regional Council coordinator for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said financial separation encourages class separation, but systems such as Kick Down Coffee encourage people to build a community.
Golden said he hopes that more systems such as Kick Down inspire more people to get involved.
“It makes sense for organically forming responses to emerge, like a coffee shop,” he said. “Anything to bring a community together is a valuable enterprise.”
But if that is the only place people can find the resources they need, then that creates a subculture in the community and barriers form, he said.
Zaccary Haney, a customer at Witch’s Brew, said he believes assisting members of the community is a moral responsibility.
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“It’s places like this where you form community with anyone and everyone, and create personal relationships with people,” Haney said. “Then you have that moral responsibility.”
Haney said this allows people to become empathetic and emotionally invested in another person due to the interactions that encourage a community to grow.
Imani Lambert is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.