At the farmers markets I serve, people line up for their coffee, often 12 or 15 deep and chitchat with each other for the few minutes it takes for me to get to them. This past weekend, a young woman paid for her latte with a $20 bill, told me to keep the rest and apply it to whomever is behind her until the $20 is used up (people do that sometimes; “paying it forward”). I thanked her on their behalf, and did as she requested with the remaining $16.70.
After the balance was gone — and then some — I think I made 6 lattes, the next person up was a woman who asked for my biggest (24 oz), baddest (5 shots) mocha frappé (3 kinds of chocolate that I parfait in layers with espresso) I make, with extra this and extra that. I did as she asked and told her that that frappé was gonna set her back $5.40. She hesitated a little and said; “I thought that girl a few minutes ago paid it forward?” I told her that she did indeed, but I had already gone well over the $20. She balked and said; “Never mind, I don’t want it,” and walked off. Nice.
As I was moving Mochazilla from the counter, some twenty-something guy was next up, and he asked; “Damn, that looks good, what is it?” I described it to him, and he said that’s what he wanted. So I told him that today’s his lucky day and gave him that one for free. Paying it forward is a two-way street, and under the circumstances, it felt GREAT giving it away. That woman’s loss was this kid’s gain. In his gratitude, he stuffed a $5 bill in my tip jar so parity was achieved anyway, but that wasn’t the point… the big loser of the day was greed itself.
Editor’s Note: Bruce Lindner is the owner-operator of Pony Espresso, a company out of Portland, OR that brings the coffee to you by Bruce driven truck. All the reviews of his brew and service are raves.