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Much to the anger of the general public (OK, people on Twitter), Waitrose has announced it’s stopping the free tea and coffee in its stores.

Now, you’ll only have to go any buy something before getting your complimentary hot beverage. Buy something! In a supermarket? Are they crazy?

I think it’s fair enough, but as social media demonstrated, some people just want to have their free drink.

So when I received the email from Waitrose this morning detailing the plans I dropped everything and ran to my nearest store. And by that I mean I ambled around a little at home before going on a 30-minute stroll in the sunshine (yes, a whole hour there and back just to bring you this article).

My mission: To find the cheapest possible item you can buy in Waitrose in order to get your free tea or coffee.

At first, I thought chocolate could be a winner, though we know a Freddo is no longer the cheap choc it used to be. Perhaps the 5p carrier bag would be enough, but the terms and conditions explicitly state these bags don’t count. Shocking.

But as soon as I entered the store, it was instantly obvious where I was going to find the cheapest stuff. Fruit and veg. Loose fruit and veg to be exact.

First I picked up a loose “essential” white onion. At 75p per kg I hunted for the smallest one I could find. Using the fancy electronic scales I weighed the onion and a little sticker was printed telling me it cost 13p. Now, 13p for a free tea or coffee AND an onion seems pretty good.

But it got better.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw shelf upon shelf of fairtrade bananas. These were slightly cheaper at 72p per kg so all I needed to do was find one of the same weight or less than the onion. And I did! A tiny 8p. Surely that’s the answer for everyone? Buy a banana and get a free drink?

But if you want to go even more extreme in your quest to pay almost nothing to get your caffeine, I found something even smaller. Loose brussels sprouts. Let’s face it, no one wants these at Christmas let alone in the spring, so perhaps this is the way to use up all the surplus stock. Though more expensive in weight at £2 per kg, the fact the sprout was so tiny meant it cost me only 3p.

Job done. No one will find something cheaper than that. EXCEPT I ONLY WENT AND DID JUST THAT.

Still in the veg section, I noticed loose cup mushrooms. At £2.85 per kg they were the most expensive of all the veg I weight, but I found a mushroom so small, and so light the sticker printed out a 1p. Yes. Go to Waitrose and buy yourself one tiny mushroom and you can get your tea or coffee all for just a single penny.

Let’s hope there’s enough stock left. I hope we don’t see a run on the ‘shrooms.

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