Is ‘Unlimited Coffee’ Really Such A Great Idea?

If you read the headline to this article and said “Yes!” then we are kindred spirits.  To those of us out there who are serious coffee drinkers, we know that coffee can be a real addiction.  You’re often thinking about where your next cup is coming from even as you’re still drinking your current one.  While not the worst of vices, one can still argue that coffee is a vice – studies never seem to clearly conclude whether coffee is healthful or harmful, and if you’re someone who gets your coffee from cafes rather than making it at home, it can become a pricey addiction.

A new app is seeking to solve at least one of those problems. Cups originated in Israel, and is now debuting in Manhattan.  The app allows you to buy a subscription to unlimited coffee at a number of affiliated cafes for $45 a month.  For those of you who are fancier, $85 a month gets you access to unlimited lattes and other espresso based beverages.  Manhattan coffee drinkers, I’ll wait while you go download the app and feel a small twinge of jealousy.

The math on this seems almost too good to be true.  If, conservatively, you’re just buying one $2 cup of coffee every day, this app is already saving you money, and let’s face it, you’re probably drinking more than that.  I also love that the app works with smaller shops, bringing money back to local business owners, rather than just lining the pockets of Starbucks.  It seems like a win-win, allowing cafes to get new business, and getting people cheaper access to the most essential substance in the world a tasty beverage.

Of course, more of a good thing isn’t always better.  Access to all you can drink coffee could be a problem for those of us with less than stellar self-control.  As someone who had to quit caffeine for a week after an unfortunate incident involving chasing a large diet Coke with a large coffee, I can personally attest that coffee is not something that should be consumed in all-you-can-drink quantities.  There’s also the fact that the coffee shops only get reimbursed about half the cost of the beverage on drinks purchase through the app, so it remains to be seen if this is a financially viable model in the long-term (while the markup on coffee is exorbitant, so is rent in Manhattan).  Speaking of finances, while the app may save you money if you’re already spending a lot of it at coffee shops, it’s still way, way more expensive than buying a reusable mug and a coffee maker and just making your own at home.

All that said, I really, really hope this app succeeds and expands to where I live.  I prefer to think of myself as a coffee lover rather than a coffee addict (though let’s face it, I’m both), and I’ve recently really come to appreciate how much more I enjoy a cup of well prepared coffee from a local shop, rather than the same old same old from Starbucks or the swill that’s free at the office.  If there’s an app that can allow me to enjoy that for a more reasonable price point, then bring on the caffeine buzz.

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