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If the coffee was good, I'd easily pay $129 for a year of all-you-can-drink joe.

What would you pay for unlimited coffee?


Every weekday, with few exceptions, my co-worker Bobby and I preview the day ahead with a trip down the street for a cup of coffee.

Usually, that cup costs about $1.50, sometimes a little more, and we rotate between Alterra and Whole Foods, occasionally mixing Bruegger's into the loop if we're grabbing a bagel, too.

Recently, Bruegger's began offering a special deal for unlimited coffee for a year via its "Bottomless Mug Club," for $129. On the surface, that seems like a lot, but then I did the math.

If I drink a cup of coffee five days a week, let's say 50 weeks out of the year, I'm blowing a staggering $375 per year on java.

Suddenly, $129 doesn't seem like such a bad deal. Obviously, we could make that coffee at our office, and sometimes we do, but Bobby and I find that getting out of the building, planning our editorial calendar and talking about any lingering issues is a nice way to get the day started on the right foot.

However, Bobby and I also agree that in terms of taste, Bruegger's coffee comes in a distant third, behind Alterra and then Whole Foods. In fact, I can't really imagine going there just for the coffee, alone, and I certainly don't need five bagels per week (arguably, I don't even need one).

We talked to our Whole Foods barista about the idea of a mug club, and he said he's pushing management to adopt a plan like what's offered across the street. He told us that management said "no way," because no other Whole Foods in the country does it.

I haven't approached my acquaintances who work at Alterra yet, but I'm guessing they wouldn't go for it, either.

But why not? In this economy, getting $129 up front seems like a great idea for businesses. I know that when we sell advertising or Web development at OnMilwaukee.com, we're more inclined to offer better prices for clients who pay in advance. And while some coffee drinkers would abuse the crap out of a bottomless mug plan -- I'd be there several times per day, easy -- many wouldn't -- and some would probably rarely get coffee after an initial surge of caffeinated interest -- and I think it would easily balance out for the vendor.

If the coffee was good, I'd easily pay $129 for a year of all-you-can-drink joe. How much would you pay?


Talkbacks

curlyboy1978 | Jan. 18, 2009 at 10:32 a.m. (report)

I give Bruggers credit for trying something different..their coffee isn't horrible, but its basically just ok. Alterra alreadys gives you a free coffee drink w/ every 10 or 12th purchase I think (but half the time I forget that little punch card).

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BluMilo | Jan. 17, 2009 at 8:58 p.m. (report)

to sandstorm... you're annoying... to Andy... your regular barista @WF is my housemate... he's a good guy... to ALL... do you always get the same thing? I usually bring my mug and get the same cuppa every day. But occasionally, I get something different... how do the underpaid baristas calculate that. Do you get the regular that you invested in plus the extra for your mocha? How are kids who are working to make ends meet know when you're square or if you're scamming the system? Please don't get me wrong, I think it's a good idea, but it seems complex. I like the idea of having a "coffee card" and after you buy 10-12 getting a freebee... much easier for the cafe owners, and you feel like you got something for free!

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Downtowner | Jan. 16, 2009 at 9:51 a.m. (report)

If it were a place that I went to at least 3 times per week, sign me up! At $2/day x 5 days per week = $480 per year. I'd pay $200 now for unlimited Stone Creek or Alterra, Starbucks too. Not Bruegger's, though.

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LoisDemille | Jan. 16, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. (report)

Thanks for the great article Andy! If any of the owners of Stone Creek Coffee are reading this comment, please "bring it on". I would love a deal like this from those folks. $150 a year would be fair. Good coffee "on account". Love that idea!

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alba | Jan. 15, 2009 at 8:22 p.m. (report)

I'd love to see Alterra do this! How about $200 for the year?

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