Jonathan’s Card Social Experiment Could Get You a Free Cup of Coffee!

Lisa Koivu

Jonathans Card


So I just posted on Twitter about my newly found love of Kind Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew Bars, which are only available at Starbucks. I was a little blue because it’s an exclusive item, which means I can’t stock up. Lame.

Anyhoo… someone responded with a link to Jonathan’s Card, which just happens to be the coolest social experiment ever.

In short, Jonathan has provided that image above which people can save to their iPhones. When they go to Starbucks, they can scan the barcode, and if there’s money on Jonathan’s Card, they’ll receive a free cup of coffee!

What’s the catch? There doesn’t seem to be one. People are using Jonathan’s Card to pay for their drinks… but they’re also adding money to the card to help pay for the drinks of others! It’s a nice give and take system.

Here’s a little blurb from the website:

Based on the similarity to the “take a penny, leave a penny” trays at convenience stores in the US, I’ve adopted a similar “get a coffee, give a coffee” terminology for Jonathan’s Card.

As it turns out, this is actually a new take on a wonderful old italian custom called Caffe Pagato, which translates to English as “Coffee Paid”. Thanks to Francesco Pierfederici for alerting me to this article: Italian Lifestyle: the “caffe’ pagato” (paid coffee) Custom


There’s a Twitter feed you can follow which alerts you if any money is on Jonathan’s Card. You can see anytime money is added to the card, or anytime the card is empty. It’s frequently refilled, and it’s not Jonathan doing the refilling… it’s people like you and me!

Check out Jonathan’s Card to learn more, then maybe you can enjoy a free cup… or give a free cup to a stranger!