August 15, 2011 Nathan

Jonathan’s Card: A successful experiment in social media and coffee culture

Here’s a nice little story.

A guy named Jonathan Stark came up with a beautiful little crowdsourcing project, whereby people from around the globe (well, in a limited range of countries) could share the one Starbucks card, via a picture on their smart phones, to get free coffee. It was a pay-it-forward type scheme. Jonathan started by topping up the card whenever it was used, and then allowed people to donate funds to the card to keep things going. The balance of the card was updated on Twitter.

It all worked pretty swimmingly. Until some turkey thought this was some sort of illegitimate first world charity of the upper-class bourgeois set and wrote his own piece of code to syphon the donations into a fund feeding children in Africa. His name is Sam Odio. And he’s the coffee equivalent of the Grinch. He doesn’t see the problem, so Jonathan has written an open letter, and now there’s a conversation happening on the card’s Facebook Page. Now Starbucks has killed the card. And things are moving forwards, by moving backwards, we’ve mentioned the caffe sospeso before. The great little tradition where people paid for coffees for other customers who were behind them in the line. It’s a nice way to brighten somebody’s day. Well. Jonathan has called on disgruntled card scheme fans to get in on that action…

The worst bit about Odio’s douchebaggery is that Jonathan was already planning to use the popularity of the card for charitable purposes, according to the profile piece the Guardian ran

“Starbucks is working with him to find the best way to use his card benefits, which allow him a free drink after every 15 purchases. “Initially I thought the free coffee would be added to the card but that’s not the case,” he explains. “They send you a postcard. At one point I had over 1,000 coffees owed so the plan is to wait until it dies down a bit, take a month of transactions, work out what the money equivalent is – it could be $10,000 or more – and give it to charity.””

This would be a really cool scheme for the specialty coffee industry to pick up and run with… then people get the benefit of altruistic coffee of a high quality, rather than overroasted dirty water that is served too hot.

That is all.

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About the Author

Nathan

Nathan is a coffee lover, home roaster, amateur barista and coffee tinkerer. He’s married, has two kids, one turtle, and for a day job works for Creek Road Presbyterian Church. He previously worked in PR. This blog is his attempt to make coffee tax deductible.

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