PRET A Manger gave away 1.7 million coffees to customers last year as part of its pledge to create “random acts of kindness”.
The sandwich chain gave permission to staff a few years ago to hand out free drinks to anyone they fancy.
While there are no rules on who gets the freebie, staff often pick regular customers or those “they think are in need of cheering up”.
A spokesperson from Pret said: “We often get feedback from customers on how our shop teams have really brightened up their day, just through one small gesture of giving them a treat on the house.”
“It’s our way of empowering our team members and giving something back to our loyal customers, and we get great feedback from both.”
The number of free coffees were revealed as part of its full-year results announcement earlier today.
Pret saw sales rise 15 per cent to hit a record £776.2 million in 2016, while operating profit grew 11 per cent to £93.2 million.
The group, majority-owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, hailed its dairy-free coconut porridge, which now accounts for one in five porridge sales in the UK.
The firm also opened its first vegetarian-only pop-up in London’s Soho last year, which will now be made permanent, with a second Veggie Pret opened earlier this month in Shoreditch.
Chief executive Clive Schlee said: “This is another year of record results for Pret and our 12th consecutive year of revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) growth.
“Pret’s simple recipe of freshly-made food and fast, friendly service allows us to flourish in diverse locations around the world.”
Pret opened 50 new shops during 2016, including 31 in the UK, nine in the US, five in France, three in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai and its first in Dubai.
The chain has 444 stores globally, with Mr Schlee adding that the 500th is set to open over the next 12 months.