Surprise take-out coffee from Panera—precious like gold


Conventional wisdom says that “it’s the little things that make life worth living.” Like walking in the park in the middle of May on a sunny day—a little thing that is not such a little thing anymore. That was me on Saturday, walking, relishing the solitude, and enjoying the sunlight. There is something magical about the quality of mid-May sunshine. It makes everything feel celebratory and new again. The only thing that was missing was a nice cold cup of iced coffee.

Every year, I contemplate what it will be like to drink my first iced coffee of the season. The temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees (Fahrenheit), and the weather needs to be sunny. Otherwise, there are no rules—because, of course, under normal circumstances, there are many coffee-buying options.

Unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances, and because of the lockdown, Starbucks and most other coffeehouses are closed. Given that we are roughly six weeks into this situation, I’ve accepted the fact that take-out coffee is not considered essential. I’m ok with that, but I do miss the experience of going to cafes.

So, imagine my surprise when two of my wonderful, amazing friends showed up with an iced coffee for me. From Panera. How unusual, how magical, how totally unexpected. Take-out, carry-away caffeinated iced coffee with almond milk. Super yum. I was over the moon with happiness, practically dancing in my driveway. Gesturing hugs in the direction of my appropriately socially distanced friends.  I never thought that iced coffee from Panera would be could be such a treat.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Panera coffee, but when I had this iced coffee, it was good, and it was wrapped inside of an individual, clear plastic bag, with the straw inside. Beautifully hygienic. The important thing is Panera is open for business and they are offering up some great discounts.

In early March, Panera launched a coffee subscription program featuring unlimited coffee for $8.99 a month. And they have recently started offering “family feasts” for $29. All told, there are good deals to be had at Panera. Panera’s business strategy is remarkably effective, based on early data coming from test markets.  On average, once these deals were in place, average monthly visits by loyalty members increased from 4 to 10, and food sales increased by 70%.

On Saturday, I was a bit down. It was just garden variety quarantine fatigue. But one get-together, along with gifted coffee, turned it all around. It really is the little things, except the little things are a big deal. Here’s more information about Panera’s coffee subscription.






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