ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A pay it forward chain that began in a St. Petersburg, Florida, Starbucks linked more than 750 strangers in a two-day act of coffee kindness.
“It was a pleasant surprise. Everyone likes their coffee paid for. So it was nice,” one customer told CNN affiliate Bay News 9.
The chain reportedly began Wednesday morning when a woman in her 60s offered to buy coffee for the car behind her, a store employee told Bay News 9.
“There were some stops and starts to it since it started yesterday (Wednesday) morning at 7 a.m., but I do know it originally started through a customer,” said Starbucks spokesperson Linda Mills.
Participant Lucy Ramone went through the line twice on Wednesday.
“I was number 57 this morning,” Ramone said to the drive-through barista, according to Bay News 9. “What number am I now?” Ramone asked the barista.
Ramone raised her hands in victory. She had brought her son as a passenger to experience the second round of beverages. “I think it just puts a smile on people’s face,” she said.
“We are greatly humbled by the generosity of our customers and store partners in the organic Pay if Forward movement happening in St. Petersburg, Florida,” said Mills. “It’s truly a testament to the goodwill of our customers and our store team.”
The hundreds of acts of kindness had at least one public critic.
St. Petersburg blogger Peter Schorsch asked that readers don’t call him a “grinch” for allegedly ending the pay it forward chain.
“In case any of you are caught up in the Pay It Forward baloney at Starbucks. I just drove through the line, bought a venti mocha frap AND DID NOT PAY IT FORWARD. The chain is broken and this silliness should stop. (P.S. I tipped the baristas $100, just so you can’t call me a grinch.),” Schorsch posted on his Facebook account.
In a post on his website Schorsch wrote “customers were being told that they had had their drink paid for and then asked would they like to pay for the drink of the person next in line. That’s not generosity, that’s guilt.”
Mills said participation was voluntary.
“More than 750 people have participated in it at this one store, which is so amazing to see. Naturally, not everyone chose to participate, which is completely fine,” Mills said.