McDonald's Is Giving Out Free Coffee With a Nationwide Pay It Forward Chain

McDonald's is getting a little philosophical. Are humans born inherently good, then learn evil? Do we live in a society of chaos or nonviolence? Should we all reopen our aged copies of Lord of the Flies and think about what it means to exist with other humans in a civilization? These are some of the questions that come to mind me with McDonald's new promotion this week: McCafé It Forward.

From August 21-23, McDonald's is hosting a three-day giveaway of coffee inspired by "the kindness customers have shown one another -- like picking up the tab for the car next in the drive-thru or with simple acts like holding the door open," the company said in an announcement on Tuesday.

You can't simply walk to McDonald's and ask for a free cup of coffee for being a decent human, however. Instead, McDonald's is dropping off 500 golden "McCafé It Forward" cards across the country. When swiped, the card gives the beholder access to one small cup of coffee, and must then be passed along to another coffee-less person who could really use a hot cup of joe. At least that's how the promotion is intended to run.

Joyous beings can track where the golden cards go -- and how many cups of coffee are given out -- by following along at (yes, that's what McDonald's is calling it). It remains to be seen how far and wide the free coffee spreads, though. 

McDonald's is also giving away free coffee for life through the "Be A Brew-Gooder" sweepstakes, running from August 26 to September 29. McDonald's fans are encouraged to nominate someone in their lives who they believe has done something good enough to warrant free coffee forever. There will be five weekly drawings throughout the promotion and both the nominator and the nominee get the lift-long caffeine supply. 
What's to prevent a greedy coffee hog from holding onto the coveted golden card? Honestly, nothing. But McDonald's is expecting decency from all of us, so let's show our humanity -- for the sake of coffee.

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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn