Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Pay-it-Forward Coffee Karma

--by Andrew, posted May 10, 2010

Every day I go into the same coffee shop on the way to work. It's part of a large chain here in the UK.

I am new to the anonymous act of kindness concept.  I came across it recently, and a few weeks ago I worked up the courage to ask the Barista if I could pay for a coffee for someone later that day. He looked at me kind of strangely and said "okay" and then put the  money in the till. I walked out feeling doubtful that this would ever happen (and privately thinking he might just add the money to his tips). 

This chain stamps a card every time you buy a coffee and when you get 9 stamps, the 10th coffee is free.  I had just completed my card today and was due a free coffee next time, so I cheered up as I headed out of the coffee shop. I think giving these cards to people on the street is better than giving them cash so I forgot about the barista and passed the card on to a homeless guy I met later.

A week later I was in the same store and I ordered my usual coffee and the barista (a different one) said "your coffee is on us". I was surprised and asked why he would give me a free coffee?  He said that the staff were allowed to give out one free coffee a day to anyone they chose.  And that today I "was it".  He said they knew that I was a regular and that "I was always so cheerful with the staff". (By the way, I am not sure I am first thing in the morning!).

This put a big smile on my face but I decided to ask if I could chose to pay-it-forward to someone else instead.  They wouldn't let me - so beware, sometimes paying forward isn't as easy as it sounds! :)

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Readers Comments

Ami wrote: I think this is a really good example of human kindness, making people happy by paying for a coffee is a good display of how people can cheer others day up.

I wrote a piece which i feel compliments your piece here http://www. Thelunchbreakblog. Com/slices-of-life/2012/8/29/pay-it-with-coffee. Html i have spoken about different examples of the pay it forward movement and how doing random acts of kindness can spread a very positive message.
Zevelina wrote: Great! And we should all learn to accept as well as we give. Joy all around! :)
grammagrump wrote: This is how i came to know about the smile. I had someone buy my coffee at a drive thru and i was telling another person and she gave me a smile card to pass on to someone else for their coffee
Sydney wrote: I often feel awkward trying to pay for the person behind me too, especially when the person over the counter is unreceptive. But i always try to remember how the person who receives the free thing will feel. Many years ago when i was a teenager, a kind stranger paid for dinner for my sister and i at an italian restaurant. We got such a thrill when the waitress told us and even all these years later - it still brings a huge smile to our face whenever we remember it! So i'm sure you made the day of the person you paid for :)
dreamgirl wrote: You know, people are not so used to doing this in the uk. I lived most of my life there, but now live in calgary, canada where this sort of thing happens all the time. I love it and join in by paying it forward. When i lived in the uk and when i'm visiting i make a point of always leaving my pound coin in the trolly at the supermarket so that the next person who comes alongs gets the gift. My brother (if shopping with me) gets annoyed that i do this, but i just believe it makes someone happy. I still do the same out here.
Chris wrote: Haha! Great story, and neat pay-it-forward experiments. Sounds like you've got a knack for it :)
RedHappyDragon wrote: Wonderful story, andrew!

Full circle, full cup of java (more than twice over); and, the net is jewel-strewn.


Sanyogita wrote: Hey friend, nice way of greeting someone,making someone happy. Infact,you too got a big suprise. Thanks alot.
InnerAlchemist wrote: The universe works in mysterious ways. As conan o'brien said in his farewell speech, "work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen. "

Looks like your kindness came around full-circle. Keep it up!
Beastly wrote: Wow, leap and the net will appear!

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