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How to Get a Cheaper Cup of Coffee

Get your caffeine fix for less with these money-saving secrets from an anonymous barista.

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“Spring and summer are prime times to reduce the cost of your caffeine habit. Cold drinks lend themselves especially well to penny-pinching adjustments. You can assemble your own iced latte, at a huge discount, by ordering a shot or two of espresso poured over ice and topping it off with the free milk on the condiment bar. Or if you and a friend want an iced tea, place an order for a single cup straight-up. Many shops make their tea double strength and dilute it with water before serving. So you can just divide the tea between two glasses and add water and ice yourself. Voilà! Half-price drinks.

“Not all savings require sacrifice or substitutions, though. Sometimes it’s only a matter of knowing what to ask for. Instead of telling a barista to leave room in the cup for milk, request to have your coffee poured into a larger cup, then add any extras you want, but receive the entire beverage that you paid for. And don’t be afraid to ask for a size that isn’t on the menu. For example, if you tend not to finish a small cup of coffee, ask if there’s a tinier size available. Many shops offer this cheaper option even though it’s not on the price list. And don’t assume that the highest-priced or the fanciest-sounding drink packs the most punch. If a jolt is all you’re after, you’ll get more caffeine by adding a shot of espresso to a cup of brewed coffee than from a double-shot espresso drink—and you’ll save in the process.”

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