In case you hadn’t already heard, last month in a bid to win back some of its dwindling clientele, popular coffee chain and commuter hotspot Pret A Manger launched an in-house coffee subscription service.
But this was not your classic delivered to the door coffee subscription that many have taken advantage of in lockdown.
Oh no, this was instead a kind of coffee contract, a membership if you will, in the same vein as our monthly payments to streaming services like Netflix.
In short, Pret’s subscription package allows you to walk into any Pret in the UK and grab any coffee you like on an essentially unlimited basis, for a flat monthly fee of just £20.
The subscription stipulates that you can order one drink every 30 minutes, up to five times a day and this can be any hot or cold drink prepared by a barista.
It’s quite possibly the first idea of it’s kind and unsurprisingly other chains are now jumping on board quicker than you can say ‘hot coffee’. But of course, they’ll need to up the ante if they want consumers to choose them over Pret’s already established model.
Healthy fast-food chain Leon has been the first to dip their toe in the water, with a subscription that boasts a £5 cheaper monthly price and who knows how many are going to follow suit in the coming weeks and months.
What you probably want to know though is this:
Are they actually worth it?
Pret’s Coffee Subscription: Under The Microscope
At £20 a month, Pret’s subscription undeniably sounds very pricey, as it’s approaching internet broadband levels.
But the YourPret Barista digital app service is actually free for the first month and when you look into the numbers, it’s actually a huge money saver for those of you who are self-confessed java junkies.
The subscription also applies to more than just coffee, with tea, hot chocolate and all iced drinks included in the deal. Only drinks not created by a barista are considered not part of your subscription.
When working out cost-efficiency, it works out particularly well for commuters who are always satisfying their caffeine cravings.
For example, let’s say you buy a coffee on your commute to work every day Monday to Friday.
Over the course of an average month, that would add up to 20 coffees consumed, meaning with a Pret subscription you’d be paying at a rate of £1 per coffee.
Depending on what kind of hot drink you’re after, this could be a gateway to some really great monthly savings.
Let’s say your go-to drink is a Latte, Mocha, Cappuccino or a Flat White, all common orders, all priced £2.35 at Pret.
20 of these a month without a subscription is going to cost you £47. But with a subscription, you’d save £27, and more importantly, have more wine and beer money for the weekend!
If you’re someone who drinks more than 5 takeout coffees in the course of a week, your savings obviously stand to be even greater!
As previously mentioned, the rules allow you to purchase 5 single coffees per day as long as they are within half an hour of each other.
So technically, you could buy 140 coffees a month for just £20.
At £2.35 a coffee, 140 coffees would usually equate to £329 a month, meaning if you really wanted to, you could save £309 a month!
However, although this admittedly sounds incredible, let’s try and be a little bit more realistic, as on that amount of coffee it’s unlikely you’d ever sleep again.
No one drinks that much coffee a month and so there are caveats to consider here…
What might be a great deal for some, maybe a rip off for another, so try and consider your own habits before you deep dive into your wallet and shell out £20 to Pret every month!
For starters, by subscribing to Pret you are making yourself a lot less flexible, because to be worth the price, you’ll always have to choose it over any other chain.
This is obviously a bit of a stickler if your nearest Pret is a bit of a trek or you ever find yourself in a Pret free-zone.
In terms of cost-efficiency, for this membership to be worth it, you also need to be ordering at least 9 takeout coffees a month (priced at £2.35) to make any savings at all. (This would also only save you a meagre £1.15 per month).
Is sacrificing your flexibility really worth it if you only purchase two takeout coffees a week?
You then need to think about what kind of coffee you actually order, because drinks like a Macchiato, Espresso or Americano are all priced slightly cheaper at Pret (£1.55 and £1.90).
A Macchiato or Espresso drinker would have to drink a minimum of 13 coffees per month to make any savings and if you drank 20 a month you’d save just £11 a month, considerably less than Cappuccino drinkers and the like.
We’ve also got terrible news if you like Pret’s 99p filter coffee too, as 20 of them a month works out at £19.80, meaning you’d actually be at a 20p loss with a subscription!
A final note to think about is this: How much extra are you going to be swayed into spending if you’re nipping into Pret for a coffee most days?
They’re starting prices for sandwiches and baguettes are £2.95, with salads and wraps extending to £3.75 and £3.95!
So if you’re convinced to buy lunch there every day too, the pounds will quickly way outweigh you could end up splurging more than you usually would!
And it’s single coffee every 30 minutes rule means coffee runs are now a thing of the past!
Leon’s Coffee Subscription: Under The Microscope
Although not strictly unlimited, it does offer 75 coffees over a 30 day period, which even the most extreme of coffee guzzlers would struggle to manage!
However, unlike Pret, there are no single-serve limits and so your order is merely limited to as many coffees as you can feasibly carry!
This is when the 75 coffee limit comes into play, as it ensures offices can’t take advantage and perform insanely large daily coffee runs. Although considering one subscription could easily cater three people with 25 coffees a month each, we’re assuming many companies will be taking advantage!
Leon’s coffee is also slightly more expensive on average than Pret’s, which means the savings per month will often be bigger too!
Leon’s regular cappuccino, latte and flat white are all £2.60, meaning using the commuter model of 20 coffees a month, you’d be spending £52 a month without a subscription and saving a mammoth £37 with one!
What’s more, unlike Pret, Leon doesn’t have just one cup size and so there is the option of upping your coffee to a large!
With the average Leon large coffee clocking in at £2.90, you’d be spending £58 on the commuter model per month and so saving £43 with a subscription!
If you’re a total Leon convert and supporter, you just cannot argue with these savings and they are undoubtedly going to help you pile up your pennies.
Over the course of a year, a 20 coffee’s a month regular would be saving well over £400!
Due to it’s cheaper price, there’s also a little more flexibility here to not feel compelled to constantly make trips to Leon to get your money’s worth!
Because at £15 per month, you’d only have to order 6 coffees from them over the course of a month to get what you’ve paid for.
Oh, what? You didn’t think there was a catch?
Silly reader, there is always a catch.
While definitely a no-brainer for Leon coffee addicts, for general Leon fans, the subscription is not quite as good.
Unlike Pret, the offer does not extend to teas, hot chocolate and other drinks, meaning it’s only java sippers who have lucked out here.
The ordering of the coffees is also a bit more of a faff too.
Unlike Pret’s easy at the till app, Leon’s subscription needs to be done through their Smart Order service, an equivalent of click & collect.
This means it’s less flexible than you’d imagine and so rather than popping in and getting a cheap coffee when you feel like it, you’ll have to pre-plan your cuppas.
So if you fancy a 7:30 am boost before work, you’re probably going to have to order it earlier that morning, or even the night before!
Then at checkout, you merely need to add your unique subscription code to get your coffee ‘free’.
The main issue with Leon’s subscription service though is that Leon itself is not particularly widespread across the UK.
With just 65 stores and the vast majority of these situated in London, it’s not a convenient stop on the way to work for most people outside the capital!
So, with all things considered, are these subscriptions actually worth it?
Well, our personal recommendation is to avoid them unless you purchase takeaway coffee at least 3 to 4 times a week.
Because although you’d no longer have the flexibility of choosing where your cuppa is from, it’s a guaranteed saving of around £10 – £20 every month, which is nothing to sniff at!
If you buy more than 4 a week, we’d even suggest opting for it (if Pret or Leon are easily accessible to you), as you’re going to end up saving £30 and upwards every month.
You can’t really argue with savings of over £300 a year!
For anyone living in London, we would also recommend the Leon Unlimited Coffee Subscription over Pret’s, as you stand to save so much more and can easily treat friends and family to a ‘free’ mocha.
To really get the best out of the deal, you’ll also need to avoid the temptation of repeatedly spending outside your subscription on food, as this is where the pennies add up!
All in all, though, it’s a pretty good idea to help the coffee-guzzling commuter keep a few more notes in their wallet!