A breakdown of coffee rewards programs in Charlotte

A breakdown of coffee rewards programs in Charlotte
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email

I assume that everyone here loves coffee judging by what time you’re reading this on the Agenda.

So here is the inside scoop on coffee rewards programs across the city, from the new Starbucks rewards program to the deals at Charlotte’s independent shops.

How the new Starbucks rewards program is a bad deal for loyalists

First, I must admit that I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid — or in this case the Starbuck Blonde — and go by Starbucks all over the Carolinas too often. Second, I am an engineer, so I look at life a little differently than many others out there.

The current program that I know and love and have learned to manipulate in my favor has been around for many years. I’ve grown comfortable with it and even a bit addicted to it, but not as much as my addiction to caffeine.



The current program “rewards” me with a star for each purchase. I go with the Blonde Roast medium size (I still can’t figure out those Italian sizes) in my YETI mug.

So hold your breath here is some math.

The current program gives me a star for each purchase: My medium coffee is $2.25 (minus 10 cents for bringing my cup). That means $2.15 per star.

The current program also gives me a reward every 12 stars, so a reward costs me $25.80 (which I quickly use on the highest priced item I am craving at the time, usually a breakfast sandwich or lemon pound cake).

The new “rewards” System states that I receive my reward at the new level of 125 stars. Each $1 spent equals 2 stars, so now each reward now costs me $62.50. My normal 12 cups of coffee = reward, now becomes 29 cups of coffee!

All I can say is “Oh My Stars, how hath thou betrayed me” (slight Shakespeare reference there).

Maybe its time to move to a local shop

When my YETI cup and I did some research, we found there is a veritable cornucopia of choices in coffee shop loyalty programs. I have made a short unscientific list below:

  • Smelly Cat Coffee (NoDa): Buy 10 get one free
  • Not Just Coffee (South End and First Ward): Every 10th cup free (under $5)
Not Just Coffee

Photo courtesy of Tara Lily

  • Central Coffee (Plaza Midwood): Buy 10 get one free
  • FABO (Park Road): 10th cup free
  • Sunflour Baking Company (Elizabeth, Dilworth): 1 point for ever dollar spent that get put torward rewards such as bread, soup or coffee. Occasional 25% off your next order text messages
  • Julia’s (Cotswold): Buy 10 cups, next one is free


  • Owens Bagels (South End): No coffee program, but buy 10 delicious bagels get one free
  • Java Joes (Uptown): Load $20 on gift card, get free drink
  • Caribou and Dilworth Coffee shops: Close to a math problem… must sign up online and you get mystery surprise bonuses based on undefined whims of the company

Unfortunately Port City Java, Mugs Coffee and Duck Donuts had no programs when I checked.

There are many more spots I could not visit, so please hit me up with your favorite local coffee shops… as of April 12, my YETI cup and I are available and on the market for a new brew.

Please notice that even though portions of this piece were disguised as a word problem, there were no mention of two trains leaving any stations.

Story Views:
Join the 108,749 smart Charlotteans that receive our daily newsletter.
"It's good. I promise." - Emma   Emma Way