Is Unlimited Coffee Subscription Service Worth It?

CUPS, a new app launching in NYC, allows subscribers unlimited coffee at independent brew shops across the city. (Photo credit: CUPS)

New York City gained access this weekend to an unlimited coffee subscription service that tries to compete with brew giants like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. CUPS, the Israeli-originated app, currently partners with 40 independent coffee shops across the city to offer unlimited drinks for a flat monthly fee.

Though 40 shops may sound like a lot, they're pretty much all located in downtown Manhattan. But CUPS founder Gilad Rotem said the service plans to expand to 200 shops in the next few months, and other cities across the country after that.

"People love their coffee, and the idea of unlimited coffee - especially not in Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, but rather high-quality, cool independent coffee shops - is something that's appealing to many," Rotem said.

He declined to discuss the financial agreement between the app and the shops.

The service is $45 for brewed coffee and $85 for espresso-based drinks, and seems like a deal for the joe-obsessed. But is it worth it for anyone else? Let's take a look.

Brew Coffee- $45/month

A medium coffee a day in a 31-day month would set you back nearly $73.* That definitely makes the $45 subscription worth it. Only go on the way to work? Twenty medium coffees are $47, so you're still safe. But that's only if you get the medium or larger and go every day before work. Don't plan on getting sick.

Espresso Shots- $85/month

More of an espresso shot taker? One a day for 31 days is only $70 - so the $85 price tag is a rip-off. Unless, of course, you're ripping shots at least twice a day. Which isn't an outrageous amount of coffee, but can be a lot of time invested in the process.

Espresso Drinks - $85/month

But if you go for the espresso-based drinks every day for a month, you're at $132, which is a significant amount of savings using the app. And if you only go before work, that's $85 and you still come out even. This is definitely the part of the deal that gives you the most bang for your buck.

One thing to note, though, is that the subscription doesn't include "extras" like soy or almond milk, flavored syrups, whipped cream or extra shots.

Bottom line: the service is probably worth it if you visit independent coffee shops at least 20 times a month, especially for more specialty drinks - but only if the locations are near your home or office.

*Numbers based on prices at The Bean in New York City, one of the app's partnered shops.