Waitrose brings back “free” hot drinks

You’ll need to buy something and bring your own cup.

There have been big changes to the MyWaitrose scheme in recent years. Vouchers replaced by personalised digital coupons and no more free newspapers have had mixed reactions. So the return of “free” tea and coffee for customers should prove popular.

Here’s what you need to know about getting your “free drink”.

How to get a free hot drink at Waitrose

The offer has a handful of conditions. First up you need to be a member of the free MyWaitrose scheme. This also offers money off coupons each week and discounts on meat and fish from the counters. Here’s my full guide to the scheme.

Then when in store you’ll need to bring your own reusable cup. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to buy one.

And finally you’ll also need to make a purchase to get the drink for free. There’s no minimum spend for this, so you could buy something cheap (more on this in a bit). I think it makes sense to buy something you actually need (ideally when it’s on offer of course!)

Do all of these, and you’ll swipe your MyWaitrose card to get the drink for free. You can get one free drink each day, and it relaunches on 7 November 2022.

What can you get?

Don’t expect a fancy barista-made drink. These are all out of a self-service machine, but any hot drink should be included in the offer. So that includes coffees such as americanos, lattes and cappuccinos, and teas. Previously hot chocolate was available, so presumably that’ll also return.

The milk is all free-range (as all Waitrose dairy is) and non-dairy alternatives will be available. The beans are Rainforest Alliance certified from the Nero Roasting Company (part of Caffe Nero but different beans – apparently). There’s no detail as yet on the teas on offer.

The press release I was sent mentions that the coffee machines will be getting an upgrade (they’ve not been used in two and a half years), but hopefully that’ll be sorted in your local store.

Where to get your MyWaitrose hot drink

The offer will be running in 331 “core” stores. This essentially means any Waitrose you see except Welcome Break or Shell garages.

Could you get your “free” drink for 1p?

The free drink used to be just that, free. No purchase was needed, you just had to be a MyWaitrose member. But that changed in 2017, and the article and video I produced in response are the closest I’ve ever been to going viral!

Here in full is the story of when, for fun, I went hunting for the cheapest item in my local Waitrose.

The 1p trick to get your “free” Waitrose tea or coffee

(Originally published March 2017)

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.

How much money could you save?

Waitrose say the coffees begin at £2.35 and teas at £2.25. Assuming you are paying a similar amount elsewhere, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the purchase you are required to make.

As shown you might be able to get a small piece of veg for a penny (realistically I’d expect it to be a little more), which would save you £2.30ish. Do that once a week and you’re better off by £119.60 over 12 months! Then double that for twice a week and so on.

But I don’t think it’s realistic or practical to be buying the odd mushroom just to get a free drink. Plus it’s incredibly wasteful.

So it’s much better that you buy something you already want or need. Now, Waitrose has a reputation (somewhat unfairly in my view) as expensive. Though I think you can find decent deals, that might not be the case when you want a drink.

So if we add on an imaginary premium of 20p, you’ll be saving £2.15 per drink. That’s still a healthy annual saving of £111.80 based on one drink a week.

And if you’re spending more on your coffees right now, then that saving will be even bigger. Perhaps saving another one, two or three quid per drink (though obviously, it won’t be like for like).

So even if you only switch one or two drinks a week, this offer is well worth exploring for any caffeine addict.

More Waitrose and Cafe Nero offers

Though there aren’t details right now, MyWaitrose members will be able to claim extra offers at Caffe Nero locations, and the opposite will be true for Caffe Nero app users. I’ll update you here on the blog if these are going to be worth pursuing.

3 thoughts on “Waitrose brings back “free” hot drinks

  1. My weekly personalised vouchers give me a free Times newspaper every day so in theory I can scan the newspaper get a coffee, check out with online newspaper coupon and pay nothing for newspaper and coffee that’s what I call value for money.

  2. Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith October 19, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Out of those options, the banana is the definite winner! Unless you fancy an onion with your coffee LOL.

  3. I find Waitrose are responsive to comments. I expressed my disappointment at the ending of free newspapers and they have allowed me a free one without needing to purchase anything ever since. The two weekend papers are worth £7 and The Times during the week another £12.50. I can’t complain!


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