Paying It Forward, One Cup of Coffee at a Time

Now more than ever, random acts of kindness are keeping people’s spirits up during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and there’s a fantastic example of such efforts taking place in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia at Italian Station, a local bakery and cafe. In February, the small business launched a pay-it-forward initiative to have patrons cover coffee purchases for others. Today, more than 1,200 people have paid forward the cost of a cup of coffee for each next customer, topping the record of 900 at a Starbucks location!

The feel-good effort was designed to leverage the positivity of Random Acts of Kindness Day that occurred on Feb. 17th, and organizers only expected the initiative to last a few hours. But, news of the pay-it-forward initiative spread like wildfire, and the community greatly supported the act of kindness and one of the city’s most beloved businesses.

“It’s been such an inspiring thing! People who don’t know about it until they order love it, and those who’ve seen posts about it on social media come in to get pictures of them taking part. Even through the snow days and the slow days, the streak has kept going. When somebody walks up, we explain to them that the customer before them has already paid for their coffee, and they can either take it and have a great day or pay it forward. Not one person has said they wouldn’t do that. It’s been amazing!” – Anita Crossfield, Owner, Italian Station

Apart from Crossfield, the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and Silver Companies helped craft the idea, offering funds to create a logo, promote the pay-it-forward effort on social media and help keep the streak going if customers didn’t want to pay forward the price of the next cup of coffee. Excitingly, Italian Station hasn’t had to utilize any funds to preserve the program, and the money that was set aside has grown substantially as customers have made larger donations to cover the cost of more coffee orders. In fact, it’s grown so large that the pot of money may be distributed to help others in need, showcasing the generous nature and kind-hearted spirit of the community.

For walk-in and drive-thru coffee shops, records vary as to how many coffees have been paid forward, but Italian Station grows closer each day to landing itself a Guinness World Record! Is there anything better than enjoying delicious baked goods, coffee and spreading kindness and positivity? We can’t think of anything!

Coffee Image Credit:

Italian Station Image(s) Credit: Peter Cihelka / The Free Lance-Star