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Subscription service gets you unlimited coffee from independent New York cafes

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What if you only had to pay for coffee once a month? With a new app, there's a way to do that. Called Cups, the app sells monthly subscriptions for unlimited coffee from a few dozen independent coffee shops around New York City. $45 a month gets you as much brew, drip, filter, pour-over, and filter coffee as you can handle. Tea's included too. If you need espresso (and who doesn't?) the subscription jumps up to $85 per month. That gets you any size espresso, americano, cappucino, latte, macchiato, and iced coffee you want. The only restriction is you have to wait 30 minutes between cups — a reasonable limitation that's probably a good idea for your health anyways.

While unlimited coffee certainly has appeal for true java lovers out there, the real idea behind Cups is that the app can help independent cafes take on the Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts of the world. Both of those coffee behemoths have extremely popular loyalty programs, and smaller shops with just a few locations have a hard time making nearly as compelling of a program. Indeed, the app's co-founder tells The Wall Street Journal that "it’s kind of like the Starbucks app but for independent coffee shops." With Cups, you're "rewarded" (i.e. pay less the more you drink) by seeking out participating coffee shops around the city. If it sounds like a crazy idea, the app (which goes live tomorrow for iOS and Android) first launched to some success in Israel back in 2012. And if unlimited coffee's a bit too much for you to handle, there are 5-, 10-, and 20-cup packages that offer a smaller discount.