No, they’re not a mythological creature, but a brand new currency that ensures the continued flow of  great coffee and offers a much needed hang-over cure to a world drunk on credit. Anytime and anywhere you use a credit or debit card, the merchant pays both a flat transaction fee and a percentage of the transaction to a processing company for the privilege of accepting plastic. Since merchants are restricted  by the credit card companies from adding a processing surcharge, this cost gets rolled into the base price of all items, which means that those who pay cash effectively subsidize those who use plastic.

For merchants whose business consists largely of daily transactions that are small – say, a $2 cup of coffee – the percentage transaction fee isn’t a big deal, but the flat transaction fee takes up a staggering portion of a small purchase.

We understand that debit and credit cards have become a de facto modern electronic currency. Therefore, as a compromise between those that only carry plastic, and our desire to not fork out nearly the entirety of our meagre margin on a single cup of hot coffee to our lords in the credit card processing industry, we have deployed a house currency called the Quale-Buck (pronounced like the bird)

Quale-bucks are as good as cash, dollar for dollar. You can request that we charge your debit or credit card for an excess of your transaction, and we will give you that excess in Quales that you can use any time in the future (say, for a $2 cup of hot coffee). They also work great as gift certificates.

Quales are currently issued and accepted at our shop, Qualia Coffee, in Petworth.

While it is a lower-tech version of a store gift card that doesn’t require card scanners or a database, Quales do employ a number of techniques to resist copying (you’ll have to figure out for yourself what they are).

We here at Qualia Coffee would be ecstatic if other coffee shops or merchants in the Petworth or DC area would be interested in utilizing the Quale-Buck (or a renamed version) as a community currency. Giving customers currency that inspires them to visit other independent shops in the city grows the exposure of local businesses and specialty coffee, which enriches us all. Please contact us if you are interested.

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