I love coffee. I especially love to go out for coffee. While at home there are many distractions, namely lots of renovations in the new house and an overly affectionate cat that wants to play fetch, at a coffee house, there are comfy seats, relaxing music and not a care in the world. I could spend every evening sitting in a coffeehouse. However, it is hard to justify when the cost of a latte is $4 plus tip. Here are some ways that I save money so I can go out more often:
* Drink regular coffee instead of espresso-based drinks to save a buck or two on purchase prices. Remember that frozen blended drinks are almost entirely half and half. Hopefully the caloric horror will be enough to convince you to order the regular joe.
* Find a coffee house that offers free refills on regular coffee or iced tea. This is especially great for entire afternoons spent relaxing with a novel. Chains that usually offer free refills: Caribou, Panera, McDonalds, Einstein Bros Bagels. Locally owned coffee shops usually offer free refills or a discounted price on refills.
* Bring a travel mug for discounts at many coffee houses. Discounts can be 10% off the bill, or $.50 off each drink. I have a coffee mug for hot drinks and a reusable cold-drink cup for those days when I just need an iced coffee.
* Take advantage of customer loyalty programs. Whether its buy 10 get one free or a percentage off when you use a mug with their name on it, you should sign up for the programs at any coffee houses you go to.
* Look for coupons in the paper. Once, I found a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a chain coffee house near my house. I raided the recycling bin for several more coupons and got cheap coffee dates with Trucker for the next month.
* Ask about any special promotions. Panera currently has a promotion where you buy a travel mug for $10 and get free coffee refills until November 11. Trucker and I each bought one and they paid for themselves after 5 uses. We'll save around $40 each over the course of the promotion and still have use of the mug.
* On Earth Day, Starbucks often gives free coffee if you bring in your own travel mug.
* Check Groupon for specials. When a new coffee house opened in my area, I paid $15 for a punch card good for 10 drinks.
* Check the Entertainment Book (entertainment.com). My book has coupons for several coffee houses, and many more I can print from the website. I save enough on coffee to cover the cost of the book. Any other coupons I use are just extra.
* Go to a local coffee house on a night when they have live music or poetry readings. I discovered one of my favorite musicians at one such event.