The Panera Bread Sip Club is an interesting subscription service that my family has used over the past year or so. For a low monthly fee, you get unlimited coffee, tea, lemonade, and fountain drinks at any Panera Bread in the country. Considering how many Panera Breads there are in the United States (over 2,000 of them), there’s a good chance you have one relatively close to you.
What makes this subscription useful is that it solves a pain point for a lot of people. Many of us like spending money on our morning coffee (or whatever gets you going), but there’s often a feeling of guilt that comes with doing that. If you spend any time reading personal finance content, you’re going to see articles from big personal finance gurus with outlandish headlines. Articles with titles like, “Here’s How Giving Up Coffee Can Make You Rich” or “If You Waste Money On Coffee, It’s Like Peeing $1 Million Down The Drain.”
There’s been a lot of valid criticisms of these types of articles in recent years, specifically about how they mask the real issues millennials and others in my generation face – low wages, high housing costs, and unaffordable healthcare and education costs. That being said, I’m actually not against what these articles are saying. I think of them as helpful in understanding the power of consistency and compounding. Say what you will about the Latte Factor, but it’s true that if you save and invest relatively small amounts of money consistently over a long period of time, it adds up.
A Panera Bread Sip Club subscription seems to solve this Latte Factor problem. Get the subscription, get your coffee every day – multiple times per day if you want – and do it without any guilt.
So is this the solution to the Latte Factor issue – a way to get our daily coffee and not feel guilty about it? I think it very well might be.
The Panera Bread Sip Club
So, a bit of background as to what the Panera Bread Sip Club is. For about $12 per month, you can go into any Panera Bread and get any size coffee, tea, lemonade, or fountain drink for free. No purchase is required – just walk in, give them your phone number, and get your drink. Technically, you’re limited to a free drink every 2 hours, but in practice, once you have the cup, you can keep refilling it and no one is going to stop you.
The nice thing about the Panera Bread subscription is that it’s paid month-to-month. That means if your circumstances change or you find that it’s not worthwhile for you anymore, you can cancel it. Canceling isn’t difficult either. You just go onto the website and cancel your subscription with a few clicks.
Panera Bread is also constantly running promotions where you can get free or discounted months. You can almost always get 1 or 2 months free when you first sign up and depending on the promotions they’re running, you can sometimes get 3 or more months for free. If you cancel your subscription, they’ll usually offer you a few months at a discounted rate too. And when you cancel your subscription, you can usually sign up again with whatever promotional offers they have.
The Panera Bread locations aren’t that convenient for me, so most of the time, I don’t have an active subscription. When I do, it’s always because they’re offering some promotion. My wife does have a subscription that she pays full price for because she goes past a Panera Bread on her way to work. If we wanted to do more work, we could constantly cancel and resubscribe with new promotions, but that’s more work than we want to do right now.
Does It Solve The Latte Factor?
When you do the math, the Panera Bread Sip Club subscription, even at full price, is a good deal. If you assume you get one coffee every weekday for a month, you’ll likely stop in for a coffee around 20 times a month. At $12 per month, that means you’re paying 60 cents per coffee. That’s an unbeatable price for coffee from a restaurant. And if you go more often or get refills during the day, your costs will be lower.
Even taking the whole Latte Factor into account, $12 per month is not going to make a huge financial difference for you in the long run. If instead of spending that $12, we save and invest it, we’re only going to end up saving $144 per year. Compounded over 30 years at 7% interest, you’re looking at around $14,000 saved. It’s not nothing – but it’s not going to change your life either.
Using Panera Bread As A Cheap Coworking Space
When I went full-time on the blog a few years ago, I had a WeWork membership that I got for free thanks to my American Express Business Platinum card. That benefit eventually ended and I had to figure out where I would do my work from now. I could have worked from home, but as much as I’d like to do that, I’m never as efficient that way.
Rather than get a new coworking membership, I opted instead to work out of coffee shops. My issue with coffee shops, however, is that the popular ones are always busy, making it difficult to find a good table. It can also get expensive since you need to buy something if you’re going to spend time there.
I eventually solved this problem by working out of the college campus near my son’s daycare. It turns out college campuses are great coworking spaces, even if you aren’t a student. But if I didn’t figure out this college campus coworking idea and if there was a more convenient Panera Bread for me, I might have opted to get the Sip Club subscription and work from there instead.
People don’t often think about what a useful place Panera Bread is for getting work done. Indeed, years ago in the summer when I was studying for the bar exam, I went to Panera Bread every day and did my studying there. It was great. There were always plenty of tables, it was comfortable, and if I was hungry or thirsty, I had plenty of food and drinks I could order.
A friend of mine recently became self-employed and was in the same position as I was a few years ago where he needed to figure out if he would work from his apartment or go to a coffee shop to work. He has a Panera Bread a few blocks from his house, so I suggested he look at the Panera Bread Sip Club subscription to see if that would make sense for him. He’s told me that it’s been great. For $12 per month, he basically has a cheap coworking space with all the free coffee he could want.
If you’re searching for a good coworking space, you may want to look at whether working out of a Panera Bread could work for you. It worked for me in the past and you might be surprised at how nice it is to work out of there.
This isn’t a sponsored post. I’m writing this post because I genuinely think that the Panera Bread Sip Club subscription is a good deal for many people.
It’s possible my fondness for Panera Bread is out of the ordinary. I’ve always had a good experience with Panera Bread. They have nice restaurants with a comfortable atmosphere, lots of seating at most locations, and I think the food is good too. Of the fast-casual chain restaurants, Panera Bread is one of my favorites.
Worst case, you get a Panera Bread subscription and find out it’s not worth it for you. You should be able to get a month or two free before you pay anything, so it won’t cost you anything to try it out. And maybe, like some of the people in my life, you find out it’s really useful for you.