thoughts with kape

Free Coffee is a Trap

Ever heard of “if it’s too good to be true, it’s not”? Yeah, free coffee is too good to be true. Do you know how expensive coffee is, especially in the Philippines? What’s that? It’s not as expensive as the Phone I’m using? Have you never heard of scale?

I went to London on business in the summer of 2019. I spent all my time in Central London, a city that notoriously has one of the highest costs of living in the world! The cheapest meal I ever got, was a Slice of Pizza from Za, a subsidiary of Pizza Express, and it cost me 4 quid (pounds, well 3.99 to be exact). The most expensive cup of coffee I got, was a 2.25 flat white from Caffe Nero. It was actually 2.80 but we had an employee discount at this branch, but the point is the coffee there is still cheaper than food. Scale that down to the Philippines and the price of coffee here is almost similar to what they have there, in fact you can eat a full meal here and it will still cost less than some cups of coffee.

Therefore, whenever you hear “Free Coffee” that’s a trap (well most of the time, about 95% of the time). To understand this, you have to take into account these factors: People associate themselves with Coffee; People are not sufficiently educated about Coffee; Specialty Coffee Scares Filipinos.

People associate themselves with coffee. Aside from being (part of) the title of a previous post, it’s the main reason “Free Coffee” is a trap. Most people are conditioned that they need coffee. Therefore, it’s an easy ploy for some enterprise to entice potential victims members to join. I don’t want to get in trouble here, but think about this whenever you see “Free Coffee” whenever there’s an invite (open or not) to check something out. Remember the “open-minded ka ba” meme? Yeah, that’s a perfect example for that.

People are not sufficiently educated about Coffee because they probably didn’t know that coffee is actually expensive in the Philippines, even outside of a Starbucks. They have no idea that offering “Free Coffee” is supposed to be not an easy thing for an enterprise to do. Yes, it’s true “Free Coffee” can be done in certain occasions (like the 5% I was talking about earlier) and it’s actually going to be good, but if it’s supposed to be for a mass undertaking to draw in strangers, then most often than not that “Free Coffee” is a trap.

And Specialty Coffee Scares Filipinos. Again, aside from being (part of) the title of a previous post, it’s true why people fall for the “Free Coffee” trap. They’ve all been hearing and reading about how “cool” and “hip” coffee is nowadays, but wandering into a specialty coffee shop scares them. Truth be told, I myself sometimes feel out of place in a Specialty Coffee shop (seriously). So “Free Coffee” gives them a kind of false hope that they’ll be getting good coffee, simply because it’s not an ad for instant coffee and it’s not a Starbucks offering it. To some extent, they may be thinking that is Specialty Coffee.

But knowing me, there most likely is a shallow reason I’m saying “Free Coffee” is a trap. Yes, yes there is. It’s a trap because 95% of the time you’re going to get crap coffee. I get my hair cut in a place that offers free coffee while I wait for my barber, and that coffee is crap AF. I’ve ordered a meal that has free coffee, and that coffee is crap AF. Hotel buffets, free flowing coffee is crap AF. Whatever the goal of the thing is for offering “Free Coffee” you’re going into something bad that’s probably using a desperate ploy to attract you, bad coffee will be insult to injury.

The exemption for that, probably, would be offering free coffee to attract people you actually like (love) and you actually “invest” in quality coffee. That’s the 5%, you’ll actually get good coffee for free. However, for all intents and purposes you’ve still been trapped (technically). You’ll now have to spend upwards of an hour in an event you 5% didn’t want to be in in the first place. Event organizers, hey you can’t expect everybody to be 100% invested in your event, right? Why’d you even offer free coffee in the first place?


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