Washington (CNN) – Will the Coffee Party rise to the scale of the Tea Party movement? Saturday is the first big test in attempting to answer that question.
Leaders of the fledgling movement say they plan to hold some 350 to 400 events across the country. While the Coffee Party has become an instant hit online, gauging the success of Saturday's coast to coast coffee parties could be an indicator of the group's strength.
The founder of the new Coffee Party movement says "we need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us."
Angry at what she perceived as media overexposure of the conservative Tea Party movement, Annabel Park, a 41-year-old Washington-area documentary filmmaker, used her Facebook page to call for a Coffee Party.
Friends started replying, and replying and replying. Park then set up a fan page called "Join the Coffee Party Movement." A flood ensued and now Park has approximately 115,000 fans, most of them coming in the last 15 days, following articles about the Coffee Party in the Washington Post and New York Times, and coverage on the cable news networks.
So what's her goal?
"Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now. We don't feel represented by our government right now, and we don't really feel represented well by the media either," Park said last week on CNN's American Morning. "It's kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation. And it requires people standing up and speaking up."
Sound familiar? Tea Party activists use much of the same language in describing their year-old anti-big government movement.
So is the Coffee Party a progressive response to the Tea Party?
"It's a response to how they are trying to change our government," Park tells CNN. "It's their methodology that we are against. We may want some of the same things, but their journey is so alienating to us."
Park, who worked as a volunteer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia's 2006 campaign, says the Coffee Party is not "aligned" with any party and calls the two-party system out of date.
"It encourages people to think of politics as a kind of game, like a football game, in which there are two sides, and it's a zero sum situation. If one person wins, the other person loses. That's really not a healthy way to conduct collective decision-making. That's not a democracy."
Park told American Morning that the bitter battle over health care is an example of how government is not working.
"We feel like the health care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there's something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there's something very broken. I think that's what we're responding to."
So what does the Tea Party movement think of this new sensation?
"This Coffee Party looks like a weak attempt at satire or a manufactured response to a legitimate widespread grassroots movement," says Brendan Steinhauser (no relation to this reporter), director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks, a nonprofit conservative organization that helps train volunteer activists and has provided much of the organizational heft behind the Tea Party movement.
"It's driven from the top down and it's not a grass roots movement driven from the bottom up," Jim Hoft of the St. Louis Tea Party tells CNN.
Coffee Party gatherings have taken place from coast to coast the past six weeks, and Park says they are growing in number and size. Saturday's events across the country are the next step for a movement barely two months old.So what’s next: Park says the Coffee Party’s first real national action will be on March 27, when members will get together to discuss ways to engage members of Congress during the Easter recess.