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Five hundred Tim Hortons customers in Edmonton were treated to free coffee on Tuesday after a man paid an $859 bill for 500 coffees.KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/The Globe and Mail

Call it a cup of coffee karma.

Staff at a downtown Edmonton Tim Hortons were having an ordinary day Monday until a young man in his mid-to-late 20s walked in, ordered a large double-double and a Boston cream doughnut, and posed a question.

"He asked the cashier, 'how many coffees do you sell in a day?' " said store manager Joanne Averion.

Then he asked her to ring in 500 large coffees.

"The manager asked him if he was going to drink all those coffees or was he going to give it to someone?" Averion recalled. "He said, 'you have to give it to the next 500 customers.' "

The motive for the random act of caffeinated kindness isn't known; Averion said staff questioned the young man, but he didn't say much and left quickly after paying the $859 bill with his debit card.

She said it took until 8 a.m. Tuesday morning to give out the 500 free coffees.

Customers were understandably thrilled when told their coffee was free. Averion said some wondered why and others wouldn't believe it until they saw the receipt.

Staff have also been busily theorizing on the reason for the gesture.

"We were thinking maybe he was so blessed that he wanted to share his blessing, or maybe he won the lotto or something," Averion said.

She added the store has seen people plunk down for free coffee before, but never more than four or five.

"Five hundred free coffees is definitely a first."