Paying It Forward Through Kindness And Coffee

11 min read APR 24, 2023

Someone once said “kindness is contagious,” and we’d like to add to this phrase, submitting that kindness is absolutely life-changing.

Even science backs up this premise, with experts noting that those benefiting from kindness simply do not “go back to being their old selfish self.”

Now, of course no one likes to think of themselves as selfish, but some folks truly are less comfortable getting involved than others. For some, performing acts of kindness may seem intimidating, and for others, they may not know just how easy it is to pay it forward.

April 28th is globally recognized as Pay It Forward Day, and this day specifically honors the notion of spreading or repaying kindness, giving each and every one of us a stage set for success, a day where we can send out ripples of kindness reverberating across space and time!

Wait, are we really claiming that spreading kindness, something perhaps as simple as paying for someone’s coffee, can spread in such a way? Yes!

If you think that sounds a little far-fetched or over ambitious, join us as we explore the reverberating effects of spreading kindness!

The Science Of Spreading Kindness

We’ll definitely dive into some practical ways to pay it forward, but first we wanted to share with you what science has to say about this practice.

Researchers have found that people imitate positive actions. And, while this notion alone speaks volumes to how far reaching acts of kindness can truly be, these findings show how paying it forward can benefit your health as well.

You see, studies show the actual spirit behind positive actions is also contagious.

Psychologically speaking, kindness affects your brain.

When you are kind to others, you experience feelings of satisfaction and well-being as the pleasure centers of your brain activate, releasing serotonin and dopamine.

Even thinking about spreading kindness, or receiving it, can positively change your brain.
These brain effects can also make you feel more connected to others, leading to reduced rates of anxiety and depression while improving self-esteem and empathy.

Spreading kindness can also benefit your heart, as such acts have been proven to lower blood pressure, cortisol, and overall stress levels.

Now, don’t get it wrong here, we’re not pointing out these body benefits to say paying it forward should be self-serving. But, each of these physical and psychological effects can open the door for folks to live happier lives, which in turn spreads joy to all those around us.

When we pay it forward, we think outside of our own self and circumstances, and this inspires others to do the same.

Spreading kindness reminds each of us that we can make a difference.

Across space, kindly supporting a cause you believe in can change lives in areas of the world you may never physically visit.

Or, locally speaking, you never know how you can change the course of someone’s day, week, or life when you share kindness. One small act can prompt another, positively affecting the lives of folks you may never meet.

Across time, like often begets like.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says we’re an average of the five people we spend the most time with. So, consider the imprint left on the hearts and minds of your children, your friends’ children, or those generations that follow you in society, when they regularly see you paying it forward?

When we say paying it forward leads to ripples of kindness spreading throughout space and time, we’re thinking of the precedent set for future generations and the reach such simple acts can have.

Paying it forward doesn’t just affect the next person in line behind you at a coffee shop, it positively impacts your mind, your health, those on the receiving end of such kindness, and all those looking on, witnessing the world changing right before their eyes, inspiring equal and greater acts of generosity and compassion.

So then, what are some ways you can pay it forward?

Real Life Ways To Pay It Forward

Some of the simplest examples of paying it forward gained popularity in recent years when the trend took off in coffee shops around the globe.

This practice actually has deeper roots, which we’ll detail in a moment, but for now let’s consider this premise as a springboard.

You enter your local cafe, ready to order and enjoy a tasty cup of coffee. But, before you pay the barista, you’re impressed with the thought of kindness, of spreading a little joy by paying for the coffee of the stranger standing behind you in line.

This brings joy to you as you bestow this simple, yet profound, kindness. This brings joy to the barista witnessing the act. And, this brings joy to the recipient of the free cup of coffee.

Then, taking this act a step further, the recipient pays it forward, performing an act of kindness for someone else that day as well.

In coffee shops, you may be familiar with this trend in train form, where each person receiving this kindness immediately pays it forward by repeating the act for the person behind them.

But, this can also spread past the cafe, where the recipient of the graced cup of coffee may choose to repay this kindness elsewhere, perhaps holding the door open for an elderly person, donating to a worthy cause, or volunteering at a shelter.

Paying it forward comes in all shapes and sizes, in other words, spreading kindness truly knows no boundaries.
If you’re looking for some simple ways to spread kindness, consider the following…

  • Stop right now, even before you finish reading this article, and send a positive, encouraging text to 5 different people. (Of course, come back here after you do that to learn of other ways to spread kindness, even using coffee as a means to do so!)
  • Bring a healthy snack or a decadent dessert into the office or to a neighbor to share with others just because.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store or cafe.
  • Compliment your barista, cashier, or the person beside or behind you.
  • Leave an extra large tip for your server at a restaurant.
  • Donate dog or cat food to your local animal shelter.
  • Donate clothing to your local shelter.
  • Offer services for free, such as babysitting, tutoring, tailoring, lawn care, etc.
  • Throw away any litter you may find in the parking lot on your way into a business.
  • Bring flowers or cards to the nursing staff at your local hospital or nursing home.
  • Leave positive feedback or comments on your favorite blog or on a friend/acquaintance’s social media page.
  • Visit a nursing home and spend time with the residents.
  • Leave a kind note for your spouse or significant other.
  • Leave a thank you note for your mail carrier.
  • Support a worthy cause.
  • Volunteer your time reading to children at your local library.
  • Provide a meal to someone who is ill, overwhelmed, or simply to surprise them with a kind gesture.
  • Run an errand for a friend, family member, or coworker.
  • Greet those you meet with a smile.

If you plant a garden, share the bounty of your harvest with your neighbors, coworkers, or donate to a local shelter.

Of course, you can also use coffee as a means to pay it forward…

5 Ways You Can Pay It Forward With Coffee

Two of our four core pillars here at Lifeboost are cause and kindness.

These qualities, in particular, are central to the concept of paying it forward, and this is why we believe coffee provides a great way to positively affect the lives of others.

We mentioned above that the notion of paying it forward in cafes and coffee houses began long ago, so of course we wanted to highlight some ways we can expand on this notion today, using coffee to spread kindness in a variety of ways.

1- Suspended Coffee

Most of us have heard of cappuccinos, cafe mochas, or cafe lattes, as these Italian originals have become coffee staples across the globe.

But, have you ever heard of a caffe sospeso?

Dating back to the turn of the 20th century, in Naples, Italy, a tradition was born, one where customers of cafes would spread compassion and kindness by paying in advance for a cup of coffee to be given to someone else, particularly someone in need.

This original coffee house act of paying it forward was known as caffe sospeso, or suspended coffee. And, since this time, the concept has gained great popularity, even becoming an official Neapolitan tradition in 2011 when a day was set aside to commemorate the practice: National Suspended Coffee Day.

So, if you’re looking for a way to pay it forward coffee-style, plan to order a caffe sospeso during your next visit to your local cafe, purchasing an extra cup (or two) along with your own that can be a blessing to someone in need at a later time.

2- Coffee And Compliments

Besides paying in advance for someone else’s cup of joe, you can also follow the continuing trend of paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line at your local cafe.

In true pay it forward fashion, many initiate this gesture with a request, asking in return that the recipient pay for the next person’s brew, and so on.

This is a common and kind practice many of you are likely familiar with, but as we also believe in the power of a compliment, we’re suggesting here that this act of kindness can be twofold.

So, while you’re in line ready to pay it forward with a cup of coffee, be sure to compliment at least 1, preferably 2 or 3, folks nearby.

Say a kind word or give a compliment to the barista, to the first person you see as you enter the cafe, or to someone you perceive may be in dire need of that pick-me-up.

So, pay for coffee, but also pay a compliment or two while you’re at it.

3- Donating Coffee

When donating food items to a local shelter, consider donating coffee as you pay it forward in this manner.

Many shelters regularly serve coffee at dinners they provide, so donating coffee can be helpful in this manner or as a commodity available to those in need of perishable items at a food bank/pantry.

You can also donate coffee to teachers, nurses, first responders, and other community servants. We have thoroughly enjoyed the times we’ve been privileged to donate coffee to such members in our own community, not only sharing clean, healthy coffee with these folks, but getting to know our local heroes a little better as well.

And, another way you can donate coffee, along with your time, company, and a smile, is to share a cup or two with those in your neighborhood, surprising someone from time to time with a prepared cup over friendly conversation.

4- Gift boxes

We mentioned the obvious options for paying it forward by paying for a cup or two of coffee for the stranger behind you in line at your local cafe, or by paying ahead for a cup for someone in need at a later time. But, you can also brighten someone’s day by sending them a coffee gift box.

Ideas like this are often mentioned during the holidays when gift recommendations are commonly shared, but sending a gift box filled with coffee and/or coffee accessories to any coffee lovers in your life is another great way to pay forward any kindness that’s been shown to you or initiate a chain of surprise “thank you” or “you’re appreciated” themed gifts.

5- Supporting Causes You Believe In

Paying it forward doesn’t have to include in-person actions. Spreading kindness can have far reaching effects when we support worthy causes.

Here at Lifeboost we support The Rainforest Trust because we believe in protecting our environment for generations to come.

A portion of the proceeds from the coffee you purchase from us helps these environmental endeavors and much more:

  • We have adopted a giraffe from an endangered area in Africa
  • We support the women and children in the areas where our coffee is grown
  • We’re able to have a part in providing clean water for children in Uganda
  • We pay our farmers a fair wage
  • We support animal shelters in Africa
  • We support Project Alianza, building schools in the coffeelands where our farmers live

To illustrate the reaching effects of such support, consider the following:

As we listed above, one organization we support is Project Alianza, a group who focuses on building schools in rural villages throughout Latin America.

Word of the good work this non-profit organization does quickly spread throughout this region, and after we partnered with them to build a school in the community where our coffee farmers live, the parents of children in a nearby coffeeland community heard of Project Alianza and reached out to make the group aware of a dire need for a school to be built there.
The current school in the community was falling apart, completely unsafe and inadequate for the children.

After Project Alianza reviewed this case, a plan was put in motion to build a school in San Ramon, and we were privileged to partner with them on this mission.

Now the students there can grow, learn, and thrive, realizing and reaching their full potential, and eventually moving on to further impact the world in amazing ways.

In other words, sometimes we can be tempted to think paying it forward involves immediate results we see right before our eyes, but by supporting worthy causes we believe in, we’re often paying it forward for those who need it most with positive effects that ripple through generations to come.

We’d like to encourage each of you to pay it forward, repaying kindness shown to you or initiating the spread of kindness throughout your community and beyond.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Embolden Dark Roast.


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