Over the past several months, I have noticed that several of my acquaintances have stopped buying coffee when they are out. Indeed, I’ve read several articles about that phenomenon and Starbuck’s financial performance of late has supported my observations. When I think back on all of the money that I spent on coffee, and espresso, and cappuccino, and lattes, and Frappuccinos over the years, I have to hang my head in regret. I suspect that the money that went to The Coffee Connection and all of the other local coffee houses that Starbucks eventually bought could easily have paid for half a year’s worth of mortgage payments.
So now, I often carry a thermos of coffee (or tea, which I actually prefer) when I leave my house. A thermos provides me with about eight cups of coffee and that is more than enough to last as I do my daily errands. Nevertheless, sometimes a thermos of coffee is just not enough to satisfy my desire to get a hot beverage that I do not have to make for myself, so I decided to do some exploring. Surely there must be ways to get a free beverage somewhere nearby. Fortunately, I found several.
Grocery Stores: My local grocery store (Publix) has two large urns of freshly brewed coffee (regular and decaf) at the entrance to each store. I spend a lot of time shopping for groceries, usually visiting Publix at least 4 or 5 times per week as my first chore of the day. Conveniently, I can start my day with a cup of Publix coffee at no charge. My son will stop into Publix just to get a cup of coffee if he is walking by the store. Who says there no such thing as a free cup of coffee.
Gyms: Our local YMCA has an urn of coffee available to members every morning. I stop by on Saturday mornings especially (but I confess I have not worked out in a long, long time) and enjoy a cup while I am on my way to watch my sons play baseball nearby. The coffee tastes good and the price is just right!
Churches: When I was a young man, my friends and I mapped out all of the churches at which we could get free food on different nights of the week. At one point, a friend who was particularly aggressive in getting free meals managed to get a free dinner from the Hare Krishnas on Fridays, a vegetarian meal at a local Seventh Day Adventist church on Saturdays and another meal from yet another church on Sundays. I was less aggressive in that regard, but I did always manage to find churches that offered free coffee (and often ended up visiting events at a Unitarian church because they had the best coffee). Today, I can stop by the parish life center at my local church and find a free cup of coffee many days of the week.
Barber Shops: If you have to pay to get your hair cut, look for a barber shop or salon that offers perks such as free beverages. We have several local barbers who offer coffee, soda and even beer or wine while patrons are getting their hair cut. Admittedly, a patron has to be waiting for a haircut to get the free coffee, but if you have to spend money, you might as well get as much as you can for it!
Aveda Beauty Stores: If you are wandering around in a shopping mall and you have a thirst that you need to slake, Aveda beauty stores offer complimentary tea to patrons even if they are merely browsing.
Teavana: Teavana is a tea retailer with stores in thirty states. Although Teavana does not sell tea by the cup (bulk teas only, at least at my local store), they do offer several complimentary cups of tea in their stores.
Where do you go if you want a free cup of coffee or tea? Are there any stores near you that offer complimentary beverages while you browse?