Food & Drink

NYC's Best Cheap (and Free!) Coffee Subscriptions & Deals

There’s probably no truer testament to the high cost of living in NYC (you know, aside from rent) than the fact that it’s impossible to get a great cup of coffee outside of a coffee cart or bodega for any less than the swipe of a MetroCard. But you’d be surprised to find that the city is actually full of various subscription services and loyalty programs that can help keep your coffee budget lower than your dining-out and drinking-out budgets. Here’s how to get actually good coffee on the cheap in NYC.

The deal: $2 cups of coffee

Where: Indie coffee shops all over the city
Multiple locations
The CUPS app (available in the App Store) sells coffee subscriptions redeemable at independent coffee shops all over the city, including East Village unofficial co-working space The Bean, ever-growing hipster Swedish coffee chain Konditori, and a handful of cool Bushwick spots including Supercrown and AP Cafe. Plans start at five cups for just $11 -- which is less than pretty much any NYC cab ride -- with unlimited coffee at $90 and unlimited specialty drinks at $120. If you share promo codes with friends, you can also get $10 off your next CUPS plan -- and off of their first one -- which is much better than sharing that Uber code that everyone already has. CUPS also occasionally hosts complimentary happy hours -- users get a push message alerting them that free coffee is available during a certain time frame at participating shops -- so it’s worth downloading just for that. But it’s also got the added benefit of a map that will help you find a spot with Wi-Fi, ample seating, and more.

The deal: $1 cups of coffee

Where: Indie coffee shops Downtown
Multiple locations
App of Joe (also available in the App Store) launched in New York City this past June, offering cheap coffee without a subscription from independent coffee shops like Sel Rrose, YOURS TRULY, B Cup Cafe, and more. Coffee deals start as low as $1, with fancier drinks like lattes and cappuccinos for $2, on this pay-as-you-go app. The app also lets users order ahead, so you can skip the line of texting/Tindering/obnoxiously indecisive customers to pick up your discounted brew.

The deal: Free coffee

Where: Pirch
This luxe homeware store’s new showroom on Lafayette offers any potential customer (so, anyone who may possibly own a home one day and needs to purchase a faucet, or an HGTV fanatic eager to live the Love It or List It fantasy) a complimentary espresso beverage upon entering the store. If you’re willing to wander around the showroom, you can accompany that free caffeine with food samples from Pirch’s stove-top department, which often hosts free cooking demos. We’re not going to encourage you to take a date for coffee here, but if you’ve seen 500 Days of Summer, it may not be the worst idea.

The deal: $35 all-you-can-drink coffee, lattes, tea, lemonade

Where: Fair Folks & a Goat
Greenwich Village & East Village
This design shop offers monthly memberships to shoppers and coffee lovers alike who want an ever-streaming flow of caffeinated beverages in either Greenwich Village (96 W Houston St) or East Village (330 E 11th St). Members also get 10% off food purchases, including pastries, or upgraded drinks like matcha, as well as discounts on men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, homegoods, and more, all made by cool people in America. Members also get free Wi-Fi, and can take advantage of the (limited) cafe seating, outlets, and backyard garden.

The deal: Free drink for every five purchases

Where: Madman Espresso
Multiple locations
This ever-growing New York City coffee chain, which serves Seattle's Caffe Vita beans, offers one of the best -- and easiest -- loyalty programs in the city. Just put your phone number in the tablet by the register every time you purchase something, and on your fifth purchase, you’ll be texted a code for a free beverage of your choice, redeemable during your next visit.

The deal: $1 refills

Where: Astoria Coffee
Astoria Coffee was recently the set of an Amy Schumer sketch parodying the perils of fame, but the real selling point of this low-key coffee shop right off the 30th St N/Q is that it offers $1 refills of drip coffee ($2) to customers drinking from the shop’s to-stay mugs (plus a 10-punch loyalty card!). Note that the Wi-Fi password expires after an hour, so if you’re planning to camp out all day with $1 refills, you may want to bring a book or drawing pad, or your own personal WiFi network.

The deal: $5 off every $50 spent

Where: Gregorys Coffee
Multiple locations
Become a "Gregular" (yeah, we know) at the ever-expanding Gregorys Coffee by downloading the coffee shop’s app in the App Store and earn an instant $2. From there, every $50 you spend on the app earns you $5 off -- essentially 10% off each purchase, if you want to think about it that way. It’s not the best deal in town, but hey, free money.

The deal: Free refills

Where: Starbucks
Multiple locations
Yes, we know, Starbucks is the enemy... but the green mermaid still has quite a few amenities that New Yorkers can take advantage of. Not only are there public restrooms and smartphone chargers to borrow, but NYC Starbucks stores also offer 54-cent refills (free, if you’re a Gold Rewards member) on iced coffee and brewed coffee, so long as you don’t leave the store. Some locations will forbid you from camping out on a laptop all day, but if you’re shooed away from a coveted table near an outlet, you can still get an extra free coffee for the road.

The deal: $1 endless coffee

Where: Any diner, any time
Multiple locations
In the age of speciality coffee and artisanal lattes, many New Yorkers have forgotten about the best coffee deal of all: diner coffee. The quality may be inconsistent, but you can still stretch out in any booth (or at the counter) at any NYC diner and reap the benefits of endless coffee flowing 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- typically for little more than a dollar.

Check out all the places to grab a free cup for National Coffee Day.

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Melissa Kravitz is a writer based in NYC. She drinks a lot of coffee. Follow her on Twitter: @melissabethk.