What happens when you buy coffee for 25 strangers?

Who wakes up in the morning and says, “Free coffee? No thanks, I think I’ll pay”? 

Coffee is good. But come on, free coffee is great. 


A couple of weeks ago, we anonymously bought 25 cups of the beloved brew for the patrons of Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids, MI. The goal was simple: let people experience unexpected generosity and then watch what happens. 


Inspiring generosity in everyday life


We placed two stacks of cups on either side of the register. The 25 cups we already purchased piled to the left, decorated with encouraging notes and sketches. 

On the right, 25 additional cups waited as an immediate way for those who experienced this act of generosity to decorate their own and joyfully pass along a gift to another.  


The results 

After only two hours, the stack of personalized cups grew on the left as the right side diminished, until all that was left was the generosity of others. 



Whether through surprise, excitement, or the impulse to make someone else’s day by turning around and purchasing a cup for a stranger, we loved witnessing people stop and participate. They paused their day, even if only for a few moments, and experienced what it means to live generously. 


That train of kindness extended from open until close. Unsuspecting visitors clearly leaned towards giving someone else a cup of coffee. All they needed was an invitation to be generous.


Generosity doesn’t require anything more than opening your eyes to what’s right in front of you and acting to meet the need. (CLICK TO TWEET)


Sometimes we’re guilty of compartmentalizing our giving—saving it for a designated time or recipient—or forgetting to give at all. But that afternoon reminded us why generosity doesn’t require anything more than opening your eyes to what’s right in front of you and acting to meet the need.


Buying coffee for strangers seems like a pretty insignificant act—and it is in the grand scheme of things. But when that act of generosity shapes the lives of those around us, the value becomes a little clearer. 


Telling people to give is one thing, but helping them experience a gift builds the capacity to unleash generosity. And that’s huge. 


We saw this play out in a small coffee shop in Grand Rapids and it carried on for hours after those first 25 cups vanished. 


Will you join us in unleashing generosity?  We're excited to continue exploring and initiating generosity in fun and creative ways. Follow us on Instagram and use the hashtag #unleashgenerosity to show us how you’re inspiring generosity! 

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