How to get FREE Coffee

In addition to general Overflow Membership (see the last post), we also have extra special memberships that make you coffee FREE!

Coffee-lover Membership
  • Cost: $1,000
  • Benefits:
    • Free Large Coffee Every Day for 1 Year
    • All benefits of general Overflow Membership until 12/31/2016

Overflow Patron 
  • Cost: $10,000
  • Benefits:
    • Free Brewed Coffee for Life!
    • All benefits of general Overflow Membership until 12/31/2018
You can become a Coffee-lover or an Overflow Patron the next time you stop by or by using the buttons to the right on your screen.  

Don't like these options… we're open to suggestions.  Just let us know what you'd like to do to help us "take it to the next level" and continue to brew coffee that not only tastes good but feels good too.

Want to know how we'd use your money?  Check out the last post.

2014 Overflow Memberships Now Available! (and more)

Get 10% off everything you purchase from Overflow Coffee Bar with a 2014 Membership for only $50.00.
  • The discount includes: food, drink, t-shirts, tumblers, fair trade gift items and more! The discount does not apply to catering orders since those are already discounted.  If you spend $10 a week or more on average at Overflow, a membership will pay for itself and then some over the course of the year. $10 is the equivalent of a small coffee each day Monday through Friday or a sandwich and latte on the weekend. It's also great for those who purchase coffee for brewing at home!
  • Members also get extra perks that no one else receives. This includes: 
    • VIP seating at documentary film screenings! 
    • VIP access and discounts at our 3 Year Anniversary celebrations. 
  • The card is valid from the time of purchase through December 31, 2014. 
  • Only a limited number of cards are available. 
  • A single membership is only valid for 1 person. No sharing. 
  • To get your card, 
    • Purchase it when you come into Overflow next.  Be ready to pay $50 via cash or credit.
    • Purchase it online right now and we'll mail it to you.  Click here or use the button to the right.
  • Overflow Membership makes a great gift.  If you’re interested in giving a membership as a gift, please note that when you're purchasing it. 
  • If you have any questions, contact Amanda at or (312) 772-2356. 

But wait there's more!  

If you purchase a membership, you might be curious to know what we're going to do with your $50.00.  We're doing some other fundraising too because here's what we'd love to do:

  • If we reach 80 memberships (or raise $4,000 total), we'll be able to get outdoor patio seating for the Spring and Summer (pending a city permit).
  • If we raise another $30,000, we'll be able to add a full-time "developer" position to take what we've created in starting up Overflow and keep it going and growing over time.  The "developer" will be charged with maintaining and expanding the awesomeness of Overflow.
  • If we raise another $63,000, we'd be a lot more stable as a business.  Right now, if some unforeseen circumstance (like equipment failure) happened, it could cause us to go out of business.  With increased stability, we'll be able to look more toward increasing our impact locally and globally instead of worrying so much about making payroll.
Yes, we're shooting for the moon and hoping for the impossible.  We figure we'd rather put our hopes and dreams out there and see what happens.  Thanks to all of you who believe in us and want to see us not just stay in business but improve, grow and increase how much we change the world.

Click here to see our progress toward these dreams!

Save your sanity! Shop small this holiday season.

Written by Billy and Daria, students at Roosevelt University

The frenzied shopping season is almost upon us. We're sure you’ve seen commercials for can’t-miss sales and the news stories about big department stores that will open their doors on Thanksgiving Day for the first time.  Overflow's next movie screening, the documentary What Would Jesus Buy?, takes on this subject with full vigor.

Released in 2007, the movie showcases “Reverend Billy” as he follows holiday shoppers from New York City to Disney World. One of the main messages of the movie is the irony of how we celebrate Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be a time to give thanks for our blessings, followed by Black Friday, a day when people nearly trample each other trying to get the best deals at big department stores. 

We encourage you to ponder some questions surrounding this American shopping phenomenon…

Are the few dollars saved worth the insane crowds and your shattered nerves?
            Where do the dollars that you spend actually go?

Are your dollars working to make the world a better place?

 Do you value humanitarianism over materialism?

Large corporations exert great buying power over suppliers, forcing them to sell wholesale goods at extremely low prices so the corporations can achieve greater profits.  Suppliers across the globe must sell their goods at prices that keep their workforce at living standards below the poverty level, offering no chance for improvement.  The profits realized by large corporations are then put into the pockets of stockholders and company executives. This vicious cycle only benefits corporations while the rest of us are left with empty wallets.

In an effort to begin a discussion on the value of spending your hard earned dollars at places that will benefit you, benefit your community, and benefit the world at large, we'd encourage you to attend the screening of What Would Jesus Buy? After the movie, we’ll have a discussion in which we address the questions above and more!

One Small Business' Take on a Big Business Moving In

A big topic of conversation lately has been the opening of a big grocery store on 16th and Clark, just a block away from us.  This grocery store contains a coffee bar complete with a wide variety of lunch items.  Lots are speculating about whether this new addition will increase business for Overflow due to increased foot and vehicle traffic in the area.  Alternatively, they could been seen as a competitor who could take away from our business.  I thought I'd share what we know for sure.
  • Overflow is local.  We made it our mission from before we opened to be embedded deeply in this neighborhood.  I think we've done a good job of that.  Ask yourself, "Would my South Loop neighbors and I miss Overflow if it was gone?"  If you answered "yes" then we've succeeded already!
  • Overflow is locked into changing the world.  When we make decisions like choosing where we source our products, we choose what's best for the planet and those who live here, not always the cheapest option.  We're committed to making wise choices.  Plus, we're getting close to making a profit.  Once we make that profit, we are required to invest it in nonprofit work.  We've already done some of that since it's the right thing to do but there's much, much more to come!
We hope these two facts along with having a space you can work, study, or play from for hours on end and our commitment to great customer service will mean our business succeeds no matter who moves in around us.  In fact, we hope the South Loop continues to attract new businesses.  As a good friend likes to say, in the South Loop "may all boats rise."

Consider Faith - Purposeful Living Idea 13 of 52

I have a couple assumptions in writing this post: (1) we are whole persons not divided into parts and (2) in addition to our body, minds, emotions, and relationships, we are defined by our souls or spirits.

If these 2 assumptions are true, then I would venture to guess that when we think about living purposeful lives, we need to think about our spiritual side as part of our whole being.    Thus “Purposeful Living Idea 13” is “Consider faith.”

Personally, I have found great strength from my faith to keep me going in helping others.  It’s like I get filled up through faith experiences so that I either am more content with what I have or I have more to then share more with others.  I can authentically say my faith has saved me from compassion fatigue (pun intended).

Perhaps not everyone experiences faith this way or wouldn’t know where to begin to find a place to experience faith in this way.  Thus, I’m leading a group (along with my husband Brandon) to help people experience faith and its benefits.  You can read more about what this looks like here:  If this seems like something that would interest you, please feel free to pop in one Sunday at 11am down the hall from Overflow Coffee Bar (1550 S. State Street).

In the meantime or if you’re reading this from far away from Chicago, I’d invite you to consider faith.  If you are considering faith for the first time, ask yourself, “How could faith help me live life more purposefully?” If you’re considering faith in a new way, ask yourself, “How is my faith helping me live life more purposefully?”  I’d invite you to share your answers by commenting on this post.  I’d love to hear your stories.

Consider faith.  Improve your life.  Change the world.

Five things you can do to help END SLAVERY

On Wednesday, I attended a hearing at City Hall where citizens passionate about ending human trafficking in Chicago told the city council what they should do to help join the fight.  If you want a recap I live Tweeted from City Hall so you can check out and scroll down to Wednesday, June 10 at 10am.

I thought you might like to know a few things YOU can do.  I'm listing 5 because there's a 5k coming up (see #1).  Pick at least 1 and try it out.

1. Walk/Jog/Run with Team Overflow in the Traffick Free 5k Run Against Traffick on September 7.  Ask your barista for the details on how to sign up with our team.

2. Purchase slave-free products (like many of Overflow’s offerings).  Check out your favorite brands at and see how they measure up.

3. Donate to Traffick Free ( or another organization working  to abolish modern day slavery.  Every little bit goes a long way.

4. Add the Human Trafficking Hotline to your contacts on your smartphone.  The number is 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).  

5. Strategize with others about what we can do as a community at our next film screening.
We’ll show Nefarious on August 27 at 7pm.  More details coming soon. 

Possibly actions we’ll discuss on August 27:
- starting an ongoing discussion group
- ways we can help create more housing for survivors
- developing more action steps regular people can take to end modern day slavery
- how to connect the abolitionist movement with other social justice issues

This Month at Overflow (version 7.2013)

July's Documentary Film - Banking with Life -  Tuesday, July 23, 7:00 pm

So, we'll be the first to admit this isn't our usual kind of film.  It's a film that's specific and a little one-sided.  So why are we showing it?  For two reasons:  1. because a friend/customer convinced us we should and 2. because we think the film will present some ideas that many people haven't ever considered regarding financial freedom.  Financial freedom!  That sounds like something that could lead to living a more world changing life.  :-)

The film is 50 minutes long so there will be plenty of time for discussion afterward.  We'll wrap up at 9pm if not before.

More information about the film and tickets are available here.

Artist's Reception - Friday, July 12, 7:00 pm

We're very excited about our artist of the month for July!  Chandana Sengupta's art will be hung July 2 but here's a preview of her exhibition titled: "Glassroute - Stained Glass Painting."

Other events hosted in our building:

Shop Informed – Purposeful Living Idea 12 of 52

We want to share a tool we use all the time to inform our purchasing decisions.  It’s called Free 2 Work and it’s a website ( and a smart phone app (Free2Work).

Free2Work provides consumers with information on how products relate to modern-day slavery. Through the site you can learn how your favorite brands are working to address forced and child labor.  You can additionally access in-depth information about industry issues through our industry pages and news feeds, and you can learn more about trafficking and supply chains through our blog posts.
Here are 2 practical things to try:
  1. Think of your favorite brand (clothing, chocolate, electronics, etc.).  Then go to Free 2 Work and learn how the brand relates to trafficking and other labor abuses.  Depending on what you’ve learn, shop with a smile or contact your brand and let them know you’re thinking twice their status as your favorite brand.
  2. The next time you’re at the shoe store or in the candy aisle or planning a weekend of shopping, check out Free 2 Work.  Look at the various brands you’re thinking of purchasing and how they stack up against each other.  Make your informed choices accordingly.
Happy learning and shopping!  Comment and share your results.  What's your favorite brand and how did they stack up?  How has your shopping changed since encountering this tool?

Informed shopping --> improved consumer satisfaction and positive world change.

Pay Cash at Local Businesses - Purposeful Living Idea 11 of 52

Many people use debit/credit cards for very good reasons.  Credit cards are convenient and good ones give you cash back.  If you lose your cash or your cash gets stolen, you’re out of luck.

What many people don’t realize is that it’s common practice for companies to add enough into the sticker price of the items they sell to cover the costs of their customers using debit/credit cards.  This means that even customers who pay cash pay more for their items.  You, as the customer, pay the higher price.

This means that you can make a difference for your favorite small, local businesses by paying cash when you visit them.  You’ll save the merchant credit card processing fees and that can help make their business flourish.  It could even help them keep their prices down so that their able to better compete with large corporations.

Of course, as a small, local business owner, I’m biased.  But I can vouch for the fact that our business would fail if every customer paid via credit card.  I’m not exaggerating.

Pay cash.  Keep your favorite local shop in business.  Change the world.

Recreate! – Purposeful Living Idea 10 of 52

It’s summer so what better topic than recreation?  Perhaps I can help you see the idea of recreation in a fresh way as I recently have myself.

I recently came across the fact that the word “recreate” literally is a combination of “re” and “create.”  This got me to thinking and I’ve come to the realization that true recreation is going to be something that gives me new life, energy, and encouragement.  Recreation should refresh, enliven and re-create me into a better version of myself.   These qualities are what make recreation different from entertainment or socializing (at least for introverts like me).  There’s even this idea of working from rest rather than resting from work… holy Toledo!

For me, what this means practically is that 
  1. Recreation is something I need to help me keep positive and sane.
  2. Recreation could very well look like taking a nap if that’s what I need.
  3. There’s much more for a recovering workaholic like me to learn if I’m going to take care of myself to keep at this world change thing for years to come.

My baby step and one I’d invite you to take as well:  Find 3 times this week to recreate.  Whether it be for 1 hour each or 3 hours each.  Let’s get out and enjoy the summer in Chicago or take a nap, whichever we need most.

Re-create yourself.  Change the world.

June 2013 at Overflow

Tuesday, June 25 at 7:00pm - Moriyah - A Life Journey Film Screening in partnership with Maren Wickwire the filmmaker.

Moriyah’s life has changed a lot: After being the regional manager of 32 Tommy Hilfiger stores in Texas, she is now a mother living in the desert who does not only fight the sand but also the feeling of not being able to live up to everybody’s expectations. This conflict becomes clear especially in the mother’s high demands regarding her daughter’s standard of living and Moriyah’s real life circumstances in the desert with no amenities. “When you are content with what you have, you are rich!” -Rabbinic saying

The filmmaker Maren Wickwire will be present for the screening and post-screening discussion.  Maren founded manifest media in 2007 while studying communication design and documentary film at the Folkwang University of Arts in Germany. She is a filmmaker and designer by heart and searches for meaning and depth in all of her work. Maren Wickwire's documentaries and media work for nonprofits reflect her desire to see social change and justice. Her social and cultural studies brought her to work with Holocaust survivors as well as Arab Christians in the Westbank, underserved women in Tajikistan and ex-guerrilla fighters in Huanuco, Peru. She uses documentary film as a tool to raise awareness, bring hope and give a voice to the untold stories of injustice.

2013 Membership is back and half priced!  For $25.00, you can become an Overflow member and save 10% on all your purchases for the rest of 2013.  Hurry because the memberships will only be available through June 30 and then they're gone for good.

If you spend $10 a week or more on average at Overflow, this card will pay for itself and then some.  $10 is the equivalent of a small coffee each day Monday through Friday or a sandwich and latte on the weekend.  It's also great for purchasing coffee to brew at home!

Other events hosted in our building:

Watch this Documentary– Purposeful Living Idea 9 of 52

Here's my weekly suggestion for purposeful living - Take 43 minutes and 44 seconds and watch this documentary:  

For this week, I’m not going to post a possible action step.  Instead, I’m asking you to post and share – What are you doing to help end poverty in the United States?  What would you like to do more?  Any thoughts and ideas inspired by the film?

The Line Film Screening

This screening is being held in partnership with the Chicago office of World Vision.

Poverty in America —
It's not what you think.

The Line documents the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me. Across America, millions are struggling every day to make it above The Line.

The core purpose of World Vision in Chicago is to bring together passionate people who share a desire for serving with the poor. World Vision's programs, global reach, and opportunities to engage are available right here in Chicago. Today, World Vision works to serve and partner with more than 60,000 people each year from almost every Chicago neighborhood and across Chicago's suburban communities.

The film is 40 minutes long so there will be plenty of time for discussion (we might end before 9pm).

Transit/Parking - While we encourage the use of public transit (Red Line, #29, #62 and other buses are close), limited parking is available in the rear of the building on a first come first served basis. Bring $3 for your spot. No one will be in the lot to take it. You can pay at the ticket check-in table.

Watch Documentaries – Purposeful Living Idea 8 of 52

When it comes to being inspired to live life more purposefully, few things really help us get into complex issues the same way documentary films can.  Documentary films tell stories and show us images in ways that news, articles, and the interwebs cannot.  Documentaries connect us to other humans in ways that enable us to empathize with their journeys.  They can be even more inspiring when they present multiple viewpoints some of which we may not share or haven never considered.  Of course, not all documentaries are good.  Some are very one-sided but the best are unusual, persuasive, and present multiple viewpoints of the same issue. 

If you’ve had bad experiences with documentaries in the past, try to find one about a topic that interests you.  Alternatively, watch a documentary with a group of people and plan to have a discussion about the film afterward.  Perhaps you’ll enjoy the discussion more than the actual documentary.  I think that’s okay… the ends justify the means in this case.

I’ll post tomorrow about a chance to see a documentary with lots of personal stories.

Watch documentaries.  Better your life.  Change the world.

Love the “Other” – Purposeful Living Idea 7 of 52

“We operate with the assumption that giving people new ideas changes people.  It doesn’t.  Believing ideas is, in fact, a way of not having to change in any significant way.  Especially if you can argue about them, ideas become defenses. … You do not have to substantially change to think some new ideas.  You always have to change to love and forgive ordinary people.”  - Richard Rohr

I propose that if we want to change the world, the place to start isn’t with trying to convince others our ideas are right.  The place to start is within oneself and finding the courage to love and forgive others, especially those with differing ideas.  As we find the courage to love and forgive, perhaps we’ll stimulate others to do the same and the world will become a more loving, forgiving place.

My friend Steve was talking about something similar yesterday.  He said something along these lines: “When someone asks me a question about a divisive topic, I’ll ask them, ‘Can we still be friends even if we disagree about ethical issues?’ Depending on their answer I know how far our conversation will go.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since.  How good of friends am I to people who think totally different than I do – especially about ethical concerns?  Do I really love them?  Do I forgive them from my perspective even if they don’t seek forgiveness given their ethical differences?  Perhaps I could experience better life by being a better friend to others and receiving better friendships in return.  How would this work?

Love those with differing ideas.  Better your life.  Change the world.

Eat Less Meat! – Purposeful Living Idea 6 of 52

This week I was inspired by the Alliance for a Greener South Loop to consider eating less meat.  I was surprised to learn that there is no such think as ecologically sustainable meat.  All meat - including local, organic, and free-range - takes a large toll on the environment.  I’m going to join in with the “Meatless Mondays in May” campaign and replace some of the meat I eat with plant-based foods.  It’s not about being vegetarian or vegan, just about consuming less animals.  The more of us who eat less meat (in May and beyond), the bigger difference we can make for our planet.  I’m fairly certain my body will thank me for it too. 

If you’d like some more inspiration, here are some claims some major groups have made about the impact of eating less meat.

Al Gore’s Live Earth organization reports that “If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save: 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months and 70 million gallons of gas, enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare.”

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.”

One more from a major individual: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” - Albert Einstein

Eat less meat.  Better your life.  Change the world. 
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