|07 February, 2017

Sponsor a strangers coffee at this Dubai cafe

Blends and Brews’ Coffee on the Wall gives customers the chance to pay for a cup for low-income workers who visit the hospital

People sit at a cafe in Boxpark, one of Dubai's newest retail districts along Dubai's Al Wasl Road, UAE April 2, 2016.

People sit at a cafe in Boxpark, one of Dubai's newest retail districts along Dubai's Al Wasl Road, UAE April 2, 2016.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017

Dubai: In a small coffee shop tucked in Rashid Hospital’s Trauma Centre, customers have not only been paying for their brew, they’re also sponsoring another cup for strangers to enjoy.

Blends and Brews’ Coffee on the Wall has given paying customers an avenue to do an act of kindness to others — by paying for a cup for low-income workers who visit the hospital.

The scheme was introduced in all 19 branches of the coffee shop in August 2015, long before the Year of Giving was announced. This made the shop a good candidate as Gulf News hunts for Silent Givers in the country — those who give without calling attention to themselves.

Mohammad Rifakhan Rafai, shop manager, said the scheme was put in place by Thumbay Group founder and president Thumbay Moideen. He, himself, has been buying coffees for others in other branches such as in Ajman and Sharjah.

“Most of the time we have customers here who can’t afford to buy coffee. When they come and see the price and can’t afford it, they leave. We don’t want them to leave without having a cup so we explain to them that they can have coffee paid for by other people,” Rafai told Gulf News.

Although the pay-it-forward scheme is not a new one, it is still not widely practised in Dubai as in the US, Europe, even in Brazil. In 2015, the Suspended Coffee network through its Facebook page had 15 million “suspended” cups in 34 countries since it started in 2013.

The tradition began in Naples, Italy, although accounts differ on when it really started. A customer pays for two coffees, one for himself and a caffè sospeso or suspended coffee for someone in need.

Blends and Brews, run by the Thumbay Group, allows customers to pay Dh15 per cup and anyone can have hot drinks ranging from Dh12 to Dh19. But instead of receipts, coffee cup stickers with serial numbers are posted on the wall which people can redeem.

Doctors and some locals who visit the hospital regularly sponsor the coffees. And since Rashid Hospital receives a major footfall of labourers and low-income workers, most cup sponsorship is listed there.

Dr Lara Sulaiman Abu Mualeq, who works at the hospital, lauded the initiative.

“It’s a great idea especially here in the hospital; it’s very good because we have a lot of people who come, like some workers who stay for quite a long time waiting for their management or for money to finish the treatment. So it’s good for them because not all of them can afford a coffee or water,” Dr Abu Mualeq told Gulf News.

Dr Sara Abdul Latif, who also works at Rashid Hospital and a regular sponsor, said the gesture is rewarding.

“It just gives some satisfaction that I know I gave someone something, even if it’s something as small as coffee,” she said, lauding the other sponsors for their generous support. “I think these silent givers are the givers that are giving in the best ways. These are the ones who are giving because they want to give without telling people about it.”

Since the initiative was launched, more than 2,000 cups across all the outlets have been sponsored, majority of which are at Rashid Hospital.

“I did not expect that they would have this number,” Dr Abu Mualeq said. “It’s a very simple thing that people are doing for each other. It gives you hope in people.”

By Janice Ponce de Leon Staff Reporter

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