Let's pretend that you're as cool as me. Thus, you probably dig coffee. However, you probably don't dig the outrageous price. No one should have to pay $5 to $10 for a cup of warm tasty goodness, but it happens. First World or not, those prices are insane. So, I'm going to blow your mind with a few super easy tips to score a free cup.
Believe it. Even the evil empire of Starbucks has practical weaknesses in their system, and I've personally witnessed ways to beat it and score the good stuff guilt-free. Keep in mind that I'm a Cath-o-holic, so guilt weighs unnaturally heavier on me than about 99% of the rest of the world. (Do not envy me.)
Tip 1: Remember Names
This may seem overly obvious, yet the truth is far from it. I guarantee that if you were to have a seat nearest the cashier at your favorite coffeeshop on your next visit and simply note the number of times customers used the first name of their barista, you’ll find that 98% never bother to ask. That’s just sad. Baristas remember you, especially if you're a regular, but most people don't give servers the time of day. I stumbled upon this fact by accident as a regular at a particular store in downtown Little Rock. The barista, Joey, always greeted me by name. For weeks, I hardly noticed even though I appreciated it. Then one day, I simply used his first name, and he gave me free stuff! Who knew? I wasn't even expecting it; I just thought he was cool. Imagine what could happen if you just took 1 minute in the 1,440 minutes you get each day just to chat with your local barista. Even if they forget your name, you still made someone feel decent in the terribly degrading industry known as food service.
The bottom line is that using first names cultivates a friendly familiarity that encourages favors. Same goes in life. Trust me. Practice the lost art of "talking,” and this alone will get you free coffee nearly half the time. Just remember common courtesy. A) Don’t be a mooch. B) Leave good tips. For one thing, it's a small world and everyone remembers bad tippers, but beyond that people need to know you care. So show it. Kindness costs nothing, and fairness always pays.
Tip 2: Become an Owner
Most people aren't aware of this little known perk of ownership. So I'll spill the beans and surprise you. First, purchase one or more shares of Starbucks. Then, remember to skip the electronic delivery of stockholder docs. Then, check your snail mail. Each year shareholders receive some sort of redeemable coupon, gift certificate, and occasionally even get some coffee grounds with their annual shareholder report. Don't believe me? Last I checked, Starbucks was trading at 47 AND they pay a dividend. Think of it, capital appreciation, plus dividends, plus free coffee EQUALS score, score, and score.
Tip 3: Don't Be Shy
No seriously, walk into almost any coffeehouse, especially if you're new and just ask for a free sample. Most coffeehouses won’t charge you just to try the goods. Again, this seems overly obvious, but most people never even ask. To put this into perspective, think Baskin Robbins. Try it. Ask Gary Vaynerchuck. Companies want to get you to try their stuff. Free samples are an industry standard, contrary to consumer assumptions.
Tip 4: Learn From Grandma, Use Coupons
Companies love this one. Think about it. Businesses build their brands based on reputation and customer loyalty. If you've never worked in advertising, you might fall over if you knew how much big companies spend on media relations. Their advertising budgets are ridiculous. So imagine the thrill they get when they find out precisely which ad worked to reach the customer. That's real data they paid handsomely for. The really fun part is that to pull this one off all you have to do is check your local newspaper or residential spam mailings, which most people just toss in the garbage. Don’t be schmuck. Check you mail. Read the news. And collect your Free Coffee coupon. Sometimes, I even ask my neighbors for their spam mail and I score several free coffee coupon at a time.
Tip 5: Get a job!
Okay, hopefully you already have one of these, but in case you don't here’s my final tip. Go to work. If you're just looking for a quick cup that's plain but effective enough to wake you up in the morning, then this is the way to go. Actually, in most offices, community coffee is assumed to be almost an entitlement. Therefore, J-O-B = J-O-E. Go forth and make me proud.
These are just a few simple free-coffee tips I've stumbled upon throughout many years of nurturing my delicious coffee habit. More to come later.