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App Aims to Give Away Enough Free Coffee to Keep New Yorkers from Sleeping

By Mathew Katz | April 17, 2014 1:41pm
 CUPS users can use the subscription app to get free coffee until April 21.
CUPS users can use the subscription app to get free coffee until April 21.
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CHELSEA — A new app that aims to change the way New Yorkers get their daily cup of joe hopes to give away enough coffee next week to truly make this the city that never sleeps.

CUPS, a new free "coffee subscription" app, allows customers to buy unlimited Java at dozens of cafes in Manhattan and Williamsburg. For $45 a month, caffeine addicts can get all-you-can-drink drip coffee, while $85 a month nets you fancier drinks, such as espresso, macchiatos and lattes.

Until April 21, customers can use the app to get coffee for free — and CUPS is hoping they really take advantage.

"We'd like to give as many free cups away as possible, for New Yorkers to stop sleeping entirely," said spokeswoman Sydney Lauren Gold. "We just want everyone to try out the app and enjoy it."

The 27 independent cafes participating in the app include Pushcart Coffee in Chelsea and Gramercy, Filicori Zecchini shops in Midtown, The Bean in the East Village and Wild in Williamsburg. The app has a map of participating coffee shops.

Lisa Fischoff, owner of Pushcart Coffee, said that the app allows smaller coffee shops to compete with huge chains — like Starbucks — by giving customers a pay-by-phone option.

"I think it helps advertise for us, it helps bring in people who don't know we exist," she said.

"Why go to a coffee shop that's not on the app when you've paid for your coffee for the month — you can just pull up the map and find one nearby."

For folks who may not want to be super-caffeinated all the time, the app offers smaller monthly packages, ranging from $7 for 5 cups of drip coffee to $56 for 23 cups of fancier brews. The plans let customers cash in for joe of all sizes and even any kind of milk.

CUPS began in Tel Aviv, Israel, and has since expanded to Jerusalem. The company now hopes that customers — and cafe owners — will embrace its subscription service. 

The American version of the app, which is only for New York City, has already had several thousand downloads, Gold said.