Oct. 9, 2013 -- On day nine of the government shutdown, Starbucks' CEO and president Howard Schultz is offering free coffee to customers to encourage lawmakers to come together "during uncertain times."
In "this seemingly unending cycle of dysfunction and doubt," Schultz announced that Starbucks' customers could buy "someone else their favorite beverage" and get a free tall brewed coffee in return from Wednesday through Friday of this week.
"The U.S. federal government shutdown, the pending debt and default crisis, waning consumer confidence and the general sense of unease these and other events have instilled in the minds of so many have created another period of uncertainty in our country," Schultz wrote in an open letter.
Schultz said Starbucks, established in 1971 and based in Seattle, asked itself what it could do as "just a coffee company."
Schultz is no wallflower when it comes to expressing his opinions through his company. Last month, he wrote an open letter asking customers not to bring guns into his coffee shops.
A spokesman for Starbucks told ABC News that giving away coffee was a "small gesture," but the company hoped to make a difference "one cup and one customer at a time." Customers at participating U.S. stores can choose one of three brewed coffees as part of this campaign to "pay it forward."
Starbucks coffee is not the first business giveaway to federal employees affected by the shutdown. Boston Market said it was the first national food chain to offer all federal employees and military personnel "relief" during the government shutdown. The restaurant chain has been giving federal employees a free chicken with the purchase of any family meal until Oct. 13.
Last week, Hyundai said it was offering furloughed federal workers deferred new-car payments until January.
Many other businesses near Capitol Hill have offered various freebies to federal employees.
"It's that simple: Pay it forward, and Starbucks will pay you back," Schultz wrote in his open letter. "I believe you will agree that this is a different yet authentic way Starbucks can help our fellow citizens to come together by supporting one another during a particularly challenging time."