Good Coffee Shop News

From Good News, and it reminds of my former neighbor’s bumper sticker: Practice Random Acts of Kindness.

The main conceit of the 2000 Kevin Spacey film Pay It Forward is that if one person does a kindness for three strangers, and those three people each do kindnesses for three strangers, and so on, one person can change the world. Rarely do we see this acted out in the real world the way it was cinematically—one scene finds a man giving away his brand-new Jaguar to a guy having car troubles—but on a smaller scale, these sorts of random niceties happen far more often than you might think. Today, it’s selflessness at a small coffee house in Bluffton, South Carolina.

It all started two years ago at Corner Perk, a small, locally owned coffee shop, when a customer paid her bill and left $100 extra, saying she wanted to pay for everyone who ordered after her until the money ran out. The staff fulfilled her request, and the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has returned to leave other large donations every two to three months.

“People will come in and say, ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. Are you trying to buy me a coffee today?'” the shop’s owner, Josh Cooke,told the local news. “And I say, ‘No, somebody came in 30 minutes ago and left money to pay for drinks until it runs out.'”

It took a while, but word has started to spread around the tiny coastal town, home to about 12,000 people. Now, more and more customers have been leaving money to pay for others’ food and drink. Cooke says some people don’t even buy anything when they come in; they just stop to donate and head right back out.

A medium cup of coffee at Corner Perk costs $1.95. That may not seem like a lot, but for a family struggling to save money in these tense and difficult economic times, two bucks saved at the right moment probably feels like a million. And a jolt of generosity is a better pick-me-up than caffeine any day of the week.


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  • I love the generosity of this.

    I also loved the wave of people this past Christmas who anonymously paid off other people’s layaway accounts – especially those who had bought gifts for their kids. So many folks who use layaway are struggling to get cash together for a gift, but trying to avoid credit.

    This seems like a perfect way to celebrate Christmas – by showing Christlike generosity to others.

  • Jeremy

    This is really cool. It’s amazing how something as small as a cup of coffee paid for by a stranger can change someone’s day.

  • there was a older gentleman in our area a few years back that had won the lottery. He spent his days going to several restaurants and asking random folks what they would love to do, start a business, go on a cruise, buy a new car etc. Then he would ask well how much would that cost you? they would tell him and he would write a check. Happened quite a few times until his death a few years back.

  • Kenny Johnson

    My wife has done this at the drive-thru several times — but only paying for the person behind her.

  • TJJ

    Yeah, its a small gesture, but it is in the right direction of genrosity, giving, sharing, releasing, letting go for the good/benefit of others. Exactly what we need more of in our culture.

  • Peter

    Can someone help me think through the theological implications of this? I assume that the folks practicing these random acts of kindness are not necessarily Christians.

    The theological teachings of my youth (“total depravity”) don’t square very well with the empirical observation that some non-believers are good. Sometimes they are very very good.

    I have a beloved relative who sometimes refers to these kinds of good deeds as “not counting for anything” (often with a reference to “filthy rags” etc). This comes from a very “soterian” way of thinking: because these good deeds don’t merit salvation, they are kind of like a pretty flower arrangement on the Titanic – lovely but pointless because they are doomed.

    So my question is, what is a proper gospel perspective on these good deeds by non-believers? Is this an expression of common grace? Is this God working through even nonbelievers to restore the brokenness of the world? What am I to make of non-Christians who display the “fruit of the Spirit” in abundance?

  • Jim

    Why not just say, Thanks!” ??