Jonathan's Card

In case it wasn't obvious from the complete lack of design, this site is totally not affiliated with Starbucks.

About Jonathan's Card

Hi! I'm Jonathan Stark. You can download this picture of my Starbucks card to your phone and buy coffee at Starbucks with it. Seriously. My card gets charged, you don't. Details are here.

If you're feeling generous, you can also add money to my Starbucks card by doing this and enjoy some serious good karma.

Jonathan's Card is an experiment in social sharing of physical goods using digital currency on mobile phones. I stumbled on the idea while doing research related to my work with Mobiquity related to Broadcasting Mobile Currency.

Based on the similarity to the "take a penny, leave a penny" trays at convenience stores in the US, I've adopted a similar "get a coffee, give a coffee" terminology for Jonathan's Card.

As it turns out, this is actually a new take on a wonderful old italian custom called Caffe Pagato, which translates to English as "Coffee Paid". Thanks to Francesco Pierfederici for alerting me to this article: Italian Lifestyle: the "caffe' pagato" (paid coffee) Custom

For the record, Jonathan's Card, Jonathan Stark (me), this site, or anything else I've ever said or done is totally not affiliated with Starbucks. Regardless of the fact that I should be paying rent in this particular location.

How to Get a Coffee

Please note: This procedure works in U.S. Starbucks retail locations, including the Target ones. It reportedly doesn't work in some countries (e.g., Australia, Cayman Islands). It may or may not work in Canada, and apparently works at the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland.

Need a venti jolt, but haven't got the budget?

  1. Save this picture on your smartphone:

    Sbux Card

  2. Go to a Starbucks
  3. Order a coffee.
  4. Hold the picture in front of the barcode scanner.
  5. If there is enough money on my card, the POS will beep and your coffee will be paid for.

Wanna know how much is on the card before you go?

Follow @jonathanscard on Twitter to get an update whenever the card balance changes. And if you're a geek, please feel free to build something on top of the API.

Wanna be cool?

Post one of the following on Twitter or Facebook:

  • A comment about what you bought
  • A pic of your Starbucks location
  • A pic of your coffee
  • A pic of your receipt

Wanna be super cool?

When you have some extra cash, give a coffee to someone in need and enjoy massive karma points.

How to Give a Coffee

Got a little extra cash burning a hole in your pocket?

  1. Visit
  2. Click on the "Reload A Card" tab
  3. Enter this card number: 6061006913522430
  4. Click the Continue button
  5. Click "Reload This Card" in the left sidebar
  6. Choose a reload amount
  7. Choose a payment method
  8. Click the Continue button

Be sure to take credit for your contribution by pinging me at @jonathanscard or posting something on the Facebook page.

Thanks to my bud Stephen Dolenski at FM Forums for letting me know that anonymous reloads were possible!

Getting the Card Balance

Yes, my Starbucks card has a Twitter account and a Facebook page. I wrote a bot that scrapes the Starbucks site for the card balance and posts it whenever the amount changes so you can tell if there's any money available before heading to your local S'bux.

Twitter will sometimes throttle the number of tweets I can post in a day, so if you don't see an update for a while please check Facebook.

Please bear in mind that if lots of transactions happen at the same time, they'll be aggregated in the Twitter updates. In other words, if 25 people spend $4 each at the same time, it'll show up as a $100 purchase. I'm trying to figure out a way to get the actual transaction data from Starbucks but I haven't been able to yet.

Developer API

At least two fellow geeks built graphing apps on top of the @jonathanscard Twitter stream within the first couple of days. Rather than break apps every time I change the Twitter message format, I whipped up a simple read-only API that returns JSON. If you're a dev nerd, here are the supported calls:

Returns the card balance for every minute of the day.
Returns the most recent card balance with a timestamp indicating when it was retrieved. Under normal circumstances, the balance will be less than a minute old.
Returns balance changes with delta amounts.
Returns aggregate numbers.

Have fun!

Contact Jonathan

If you have something to say, please head on over to Twitter or Facebook and let 'er rip.