“No charge. This one’s on us.”
That’s what residents of Roseburg, Oregon were told when they pulled up to the window to pay for their order at Dutch Bros., the Oregon-based coffee chain. The goal was simple: a little surprise to lift the spirits of Roseburg after Thursday’s horrific shooting that left nine people dead at Umpqua Community College.
The plan to give Roseburg customers their orders for free was hatched by the local Dutch Bros. franchisee and the company’s corporate headquarters in Grant’s Pass. There are five Dutch Bros. locations in Roseburg that do a steady business with a drive-trough lattes, breves and other other drinks. The chain wanted to keep the gesture quiet and a surprise. One store manager told Breitbart News exclusively, “We didn’t want to do a press release or some announcement on social media. This was something that really was done to try to brighten the day of everyone we came across in Roseburg.”
The town of just over 21,000 people was hit hard by the shooter’s shocking act of evil. Roseburg is a tightly knit community where few were untouched by the shooting, with most residents having only a couple of degrees of separation from one of the nine victims.
The customers reactions to Dutch Bros’s small act of generosity have been surprisingly emotional, several Dutch Bros. employees told Breitbart News. “One woman who came through was a nurse at the local hospital, and she had spent all day and all night working with the teams that were tending to the dead and wounded,” one Dutch Bros. employee said. “You could tell that she was completely wiped out, physically and emotionally. I told her that the coffee was on us and she just broke down and cried.”
Crying over a cup of espresso may seem a bit over the top even in a time of tragedy, but the Dutch Bros. manager Breitbart News spoke with said he’s seen it before. “One thing I’ve learned in over five years here is that even on the the worst day of someone’s life, they still want they’re morning cup of coffee. Over and over, I’ve seen how comforting something that simple and routine can be when people are troubled.”
The most surprising reaction came from a woman who frowned when she was told she’d be getting her coffee free and said “well, that’s annoying!” The employee who took her order laughed, “I didn’t really know what to say to that. I think I said I was sorry but I’m not sure what I was sorry for.”
Follow Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.