Just like random acts of kindness, crowdfunding and paying it forward, "suspended coffee" is a small and cheap way of making a difference in the lives of other people.

The latest good deed fad began in Italy, grew in popularity throughout 2011, and spread to Ireland earlier this year.

According to TheJournal.ie, when you buy a coffee at a participating cafe, you can also pay for another coffee or tea, which can then be given to someone who can't afford one if they come in and ask for it.

So far, 26 local independent cafes across Ireland have signed up to take part mainly thanks to Aoife Ryan, a schoolteacher for children with autism.

After seeing people talking about the growing fad on Twitter earlier this year, Ryan decided to introduce suspended coffee in Ireland and started a Facebook page about it the very next morning.

“I saw the idea on my Twitter feed and immediately I thought ‘this is great, this is something that Irish people would be interested in doing,’” she says. “When out in the city and I see people on the streets or that are homeless I prefer to buy them food or a drink rather than give money, so the suspended coffee really appealed to me.”

Ryan said it wasn't difficult to get coffee shops on board.

"What I have done is found coffee shops on Google, Facebook and Twitter and sent them messages and emails, telling them about the concept and asking them if it is something that they would be interested in getting on board with.

"Two of the shops saw the Facebook page or Twitter account, and sent me a message enquiring about it and expressing an interest to be involved."

A friend of Ryan's designed a poster for cafes to print out and display in their window to let customers  - and those looking for a hot drink - know that the shop is participating in the scheme.

Ryan says that while a lot of suspended coffees have been bought in the shops, only a few have so far been claimed by people who can't afford them.

"I have emailed Focus Ireland, Simon, the Peter McVerry Trust, St Vincent De Paul, Trust, DePaul and hostels around the country asking them to spread the word to people they are meeting,” said Ryan. “The whole point is for those people to benefit from it."

Bigger chain coffee shops, like Starbucks, have been a little slower in adopting the scheme.

“I have emailed all the big chains,” Ryan said. "Two of them have mailed me back saying the concept has gone to the operational teams for discussions. Time will tell… But it goes to show that sometimes ideas can take off without having the big guys on board."

Despite the tough economic climate, there are many people who embracing shelling out a little extra money to help someone.

“Some people I have spoken to about the idea would be happier to buy a suspended coffee than give money in other ways,” Ryan said.

“Irish people in general are a generous lot and are very good when it comes to charity,” she said.

“I honestly am delighted with all the shops that are on board. On the other hand there is still loads of room for more of them to get involved”.

You can find out more about Suspended Coffee Ireland on Facebook and Twitter.