There’s more than coffee percolating at a Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For the past two days, hundreds of drive-thru customers have been providing random acts of caffeinated kindness, paying for the drinks of the strangers behind them.
It started on Wednesday around 7 a.m., when a woman paid for her iced coffee — along with the caramel macchiato ordered by the driver behind her.
That cycle continued for more than 10 hours.
“This happens a lot here,” barista Celeste Guzman told TODAY.com on Thursday. “Somebody wants to be nice and do something generous for the person behind them and then the person behind them keeps it going.”
The store estimates nearly 450 people paid for the drinks behind them before the chain ended Wednesday night, based on written tallies and register receipts, Guzman said. The previous record at the St. Petersburg location was 141.
Another pay-it-forward chain began Thursday, ended several hours later, and then picked up again shortly afterwards, Linda Mills, a Starbucks corporate spokeswoman, told TODAY.com. So far, the location estimates about 725 people have participated over the past two days.
Mills said many of the company's locations see this happen "quite often."
“Starbucks is that gathering place where people are coming in for that break in their day, for a little pick-me- up, so they do want to extend it to somebody else in their community. They want to pass it on," she said. "And for us, it’s super exciting to watch and were humbled that people would do that in our store."
More details from Huff Po:
Goodwill was brewing at a Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Wednesday morning when a customer at the drive-through window decided to "pay it forward" and buy coffee for the next person in line.
Instead of just accepting the free drink and moving on, however, that customer returned the favor and bought a drink for the next person in line at the drive-through.
It happened again... and again... and again, until 378 customers had purchased drinks for the strangers in line behind them, a "pay it forward" chain that lasted nearly 11 hours.
"It makes your day better, I think," customer Lexie Kane told The Tampa Bay Times.
"Someone started a good thing and we’re just trying to carry the ball," customer John Myers told Bay News Nine.
The hot streak ended at about 6 p.m., when a woman insisted on just paying for her own drink.
Barista Vu Nguyen told the Times that the customer didn't seem to understand the concept.
These random acts of caffeinated kindness happen from time to time. This particular location at one point had a "pay it forward" sequence that lasted through 141 customers. And last year, a pay-it-forward chain at a Connecticut Starbucks lasted for several days and 1,468 customers.
A Florida man put an end to a “pay it forward” streak at a local Starbucks because he said he thinks people were participating out of “guilt,” not “generosity.”
Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the pay it forward phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458. After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.
“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”
Though Schorsch didn't pay for the next customer at the drive-thru, he said he tipped the barista $100.
“I’m really not trying to be a Grinch,” Schorsch said. “I know things are hard for baristas and I am willing to help people.”
“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something,” said Schorsch, who is also a part-time political consultant. “This is turning into a social phenomenon and I had to put an end to it.”
When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.
“Although I can’t prove it, I think this has become an organic marketing ploy for Starbucks,” Schorsch said. “I love Starbucks. I have nothing against them. But this takes away the genuineness.”
Schorsch said some patrons are driving to this particular store after they heard about the pay it forward streak.
“This is turning into something ridiculous and cheesy,” Schorsch said.
“It just seems like a First World problem to me. Middle-class people sitting in their cars at a drive-thru, sipping a $5 drink and worry about someone breaking the ranks,” Schorsch said.
“There is a little humor being a contrarian, but I think if you really want to help, find someone that obviously needs help, like the homeless,” Schorsch said.
"Also, I got a $6 Venti Frappuccino. Someone might just get a $2 coffee," Schorsch said. "This is unfair to that person who paid for me."
An employee at this Starbucks location referred ABC News to the company’s corporate media relations hotline this morning.
Linda Mills, Starbucks’ spokeswoman, did not not immediately respond to ABC News' request for a comment.
This store’s pay it forward chain lasted for 10 hours on Wednesday, with 457 customers following the practice, until customer No. 458 refused.