TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee at Work

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There's no denying that coffee makes the office world go 'round. However, you cannot subsist on it alone. It's time to inject a variety of other beverages into your routine.

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

The workplace has begun to replace the coffee shop for many American employees. People employed in an office where coffee is served often skip Dunkin’ or Starbucks to save a few bucks by indulging in the free brew. While starting the day off with a cup of java is a perfectly acceptable practice, many employees return to the coffee pot time and time again throughout the day, filling their body with loads of caffeine, and potentially high levels of sugar if they choose to sweeten their beverage.

A hot drink or a beverage break while working is loved by many–and throwing out the coffee pot to improve employees’ health without replacing it with something equally as satisfactory isn’t advised. For seven healthy alternatives to serving coffee in the workplace that your employees–and their bodies–will love, try the following:

1. Kombucha Tea

You’ve probably heard about this one but don’t know too much about it. Kombucha is a type of yeast. When you ferment it with tea, sugar, and other flavors or ingredients you make Kombucha tea. While the benefits of Kombucha are debated, many claim that it is useful for treating memory loss, regulating bowel movements, preventing cancer, helping with high blood pressure, and more.

2. Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is the good alternative to coffee for those who can’t start the day without a cup o’ caffeine. Providing the same buzz that coffee gives, Yerba Mate is preferred by many as it’s packed with nutrients, too. Mate is made from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree. It is widely known for not having the heavy “crash” that coffee can bring. Another benefit of Yerba Mate is that it can be prepared and consumed in a variety of ways–hot, cold, with honey, in a tea infuser, in a French press, or even in a traditional coffee machine.

3. Probiotic Drinks

There is a wide variety of probiotic drinks available these days. These sparkling beverages provide different strains of active cultures of live probiotics. If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t sure why that matters. Researchers say that some digestive orders happen when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can happen after taking antibiotics. Probiotics are said to help counteract this. They regulate digestive health, boost the immune system, maintaining gut health, and more.

4. Tea

Most offices will have this available for you already. The teapot offers a very healthyalternative to the office coffee machine. Teas come in a myriad of forms and blends and can be drunk hot or cold. There is a massive selection of green, black, herbal, and specialty teas out there, many of which are caffeine-free and naturally sweet enough to pass on the sugar. Many teas are a well-known source of antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals.

5. Coconut Water

Tea and coconut water are two of the healthier drinks on the market growing in popularity the fastest. Coconut water is a clear, milky liquid that comes from green, young coconuts. Coconut water is naturally sweet, contains bioactive enzymes and is chock full ofrehydrating electrolytes, which makes it a good replacement for sugary sports drinks.

6. Sparkling Water

While it’s not the most exciting beverage in the world, sparkling water can be a refreshing alternative to both coffee and water. Especially when flavored with natural, sugar-free, fruit extracts, sparkling water is delicious and hydrating. There is a lot of competition in the marketplace from Perrier to San Pellegrino.

7. Hot Apple Cider

Hot apple cider’s sweet tanginess offers its own unique pick-me-up in lieu of caffeine, and its soothing warmth is just as satisfying as that of coffee on a cold fall or winter morning. In addition to its natural sweetness, because apples are the key ingredient, apple cider offershealth benefits not available in coffee.

TIME Food & Drink

These Are America’s Best Coffee Cities

Coffee
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Whether you’re looking for single-origin beans, personalized pour-overs, or carbonated iced coffee

When they took a train trip along the West Coast a few years ago, Stephanie Mantello and her husband got off at Portland on a mission.

It was for coffee.

“We sprinted off the train with only a 45-minute stop to get a coffee at Stumptown,” says the Sydney-based travel blogger. “It was well worth the potential of missing the train.”

Like many travelers, Mantello loves to try local java in a new place. And no surprise, Portland, OR—home of famed roaster Stumptown—was yet again in the running this year for the top city for coffee among Travel +Leisure readers. In the America’s Favorite Places survey, readers voted on the most magnetic features of major metro areas, from the quality of local coffee to the live-music scene.

Find out where to get your fix in the best coffee cities across the country—and make your opinions heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 Portland, OR

The Northwest city known for its latte-friendly (read: misty) weather won the coffee contest again this year—and not just forStumptown Coffee Roasters, which continues to expand beyond Oregon. Two lesser-known local favorites are in the city’s Central Eastside. One is Coava, a single-origin roaster whose beans are regulars at the Northwest Regional Barista Competition, and whose Zen-feeling Brew Bar shares space with a sustainable bamboo company. The other, micro-roaster Water Avenue Coffee, offers such barrel-aged coffees as Oak and Pinot Noir; one of the most popular menu items is a $1 sidecar shot of espresso.

No. 2 Seattle

The city that gave the world Starbucks fell to No. 2 again—perhaps because some T+L readers think only of the coffee giant when they come here. But Seattle, which also ranked well for bookstores and boutiques, supports plenty of smaller coffee operations (some even dubbed “nana-roasters”) that roast their own beans. Consider Slate Coffee Roasters in Ballard, or Convoy Coffee, a bike-powered coffee cart that does pour-overs, AeroPress, and iced coffee. If you can’t come to Seattle without visiting the mother ship, check out the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a 15,000-square-foot flagship that will offer small-batch roasts when it opens December 2014 in Capitol Hill.

No. 3 Providence, RI

The coffee culture in this state capital—populated by a lot of artists and geeks, according to T+L readers—runs deep. To understand one reason why sweet “coffee milk” is Rhode Island’s state drink, go toDave’s Coffee, which sells a high-quality espresso-based coffee syrup that locals often add to a glass of milk or use to lace their morning joe. Dave’s also does a cold-brew coffee on tap and boasts of having the state’s only Slayer machine—which helps baristas better control the temperature and pressure during espresso making. One of the best up-and-comer coffee places is in the Dean Hotel: Bolt Coffee Company, where the top order is a Chemex-made pot of coffee for two. And since nothing goes better with coffee than a little pastry, pick up some cookies from North Bakery, or scones and sticky buns from Seven Stars Bakery (Providence ranked at No. 1 for its baked goods).

No. 4 Albuquerque

The New Mexico city made the top five for its distinctive local flavor. Case in point: the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company, offering blends made with local pine nuts, which fans say add a vaguely cocoa or hazelnut flavor. On Saturdays, the roaster offers a short coffee history class with a roasting demo and cupping. Ask Albuquerqueans for their other favorite local coffee drink, and they may send you to Golden Crown Panaderia, where you can indulge in the signature Coffee Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and a generous dousing of espresso.

No. 5 Houston

This business hub is one of four cities designated as a green coffee exchange port on the New York Board of Trade. For a purist’s cup, check out Siphon Coffee, in Montrose, where your coffee is prepared using the vacuum process, which promises to extract the best flavor from the beans. While Siphon’s baristas may discourage cream or sugar, they do condone snacks (like breakfast tacos and empanadas) and trying your luck on the coffee bar’s Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger machine. To taste other local brews, go to Revival Market, which offers local cheeses, charcuterie, and coffee by Houston-based roaster Greenway. Another reason to stop in: Houston also scored near the top of the survey for its foodie-friendly specialty grocery stores.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Reasons You Should Consider Quitting Coffee Today

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Here's why you should consider swearing off coffee for good

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Thirteen years ago, I was the No. 1 sales rep in the country for Radio Disney. I was passionate, full of energy and drive, and committed to being as productive as I could each day. I was also hopelessly addicted to coffee. I began each morning with an extra large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Then at lunchtime I had a second large cup of coffee. On most days, I’d follow that up with a third large cup of coffee around 4 p.m. for the final sales push of the day.

When the local Dunkin’ Donuts knows your name and order and begins to make your coffee the moment you walk in the door, you probably should know you have a problem. (Thanks Benny, the manager of the Allston-Brighton, Mass., Dunkin Donuts!) But I didn’t think I had a problem. How could I? I was making great money and achieving everything asked of me at work and more.

Fast forward to last year. I was running Likeable Local, serving as chairman for Likeable Media, writing books, and raising a family all at once. And I was still leaning on my good friend coffee to get through each day. Coffee in the morning, coffee at lunch, coffee in the late afternoon. Some later nights I even had a fourth large coffee to help me work until 2 a.m. or so. Then at 6 a.m., I’d start it all over again.

Things were going great on the outside, but like any addiction, my coffee intake wasn’t without its consequences. I had gained a lot of weight. I was irritable and anxious. I felt simply out of balance—the coffee felt great, but each time the caffeine wore off, I felt depressed and tired and struggled until I got my next fix.

I wasn’t happy with myself. Eventually, with the help of the Morrison Health Center, I quit coffee (replaced with green tea) and began eating better and exercising more. I lost 50 pounds and felt better than ever. Most surprising, I could still work long days and late nights (every entrepreneur’s necessity) without coffee.

That’s just my story. Admittedly, most people I know drink coffee—especially entrepreneurs. But before you grab that next cup, consider these seven reasons it might be worth calling it quits:

1) Caffeine stimulates the flow of stress hormones, which can cause increased levels of anxiety, irritability, insomnia and muscular tension.

2) Caffeine can cause depression and attention disorders that make it difficult to focus.

3) Too much caffeine can cause insomnia and fatigue, making you tired throughout the day—and less effective.

4) Caffeine dehydrates the body. The acidity of coffee can cause digestive discomfort, heartburn and indigestion.

5) Caffeine can cause insulin sensitivity, making it more difficult for your body to regulate blood sugar.

6) Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, the source of the “fight or flight” response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to email.

7) Coffee addiction is expensive. At my worst, I was spending $50 per week on coffee alone. Since I quit, I’m saving $2,500 per year.

I’ve never felt as great as I do now that I’ve conquered my coffee addiction. I still get together with people for “coffee” all the time. I just get green tea or water instead. And I’m still as productive as ever, sometimes late into the night. So today, consider celebrating National Coffee Day by calling it quits.

Now it’s your turn. What is your experience with coffee? Could you live without it? Do you think it makes you more productive at work? Do you feel any of the above side effects?

TIME Addiction

Addicted to Coffee? It’s Probably in Your Genes

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A new genetic explanation for your caffeine cravings

If you feel like you literally could not survive a day without coffee, you might have your genes to thank (or blame).

A new genome-wide study published in Molecular Psychiatry has identified genetic variants that may have a lot to do with your coffee obsession. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at more than 120,000 coffee drinkers and found six markers linked to responsiveness to caffeine—some of which had been previously identified as being related to smoking initiation and other types of potentially addictive behaviors, but had never before been linked to coffee consumption, says Marilyn Cornelis, research associate in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

MORE: You Asked: Is Coffee Bad For You?

Caffeine is a drug—a fact many of us forget until we madly crave a double shot. “There is controversy as to whether it can be addictive, and some of the genes that come up in the study suggest that’s quite possible,” Cornelis says. “The stimulating effects caffeine has would suggest that caffeine is a major driving in habitual coffee consumption at the genetic level.”

MORE: How Coffee Might Lower the Risk of Heart Failure

The results might help add nuance to coffee research, she says, which generally treats everyone as the same. It could also help pinpoint people who’d most benefit from coffee consumption, and who should stick to decaf. “We assume that any health effects from one cup of coffee will be the same for everyone, but this data suggests that’s not true,” Cornelis says.

Scientists have known for a long time that genetics play a role in coffee consumption and caffeine response, Cornelis says. “But it’s only until just recently that we’ve actually been able to pinpoint these exact genetics. That’s an important step forward in the research.”

TIME Food & Drink

Coffee-Bean Prices Have Hit Their Highest Level in More Than Two Years

Devastating drought threatens Brazils coffee production
Coffee sales this season will be down after southeastern Brazil deals with one of the worst droughts in decades. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Projections for continued drought in Brazil mean they'll likely rise again

Arabica-coffee prices reached their highest level in 2½ years on Monday, after projections for more dry weather in Brazil sowed worries about lackluster future harvests, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Arabica coffee ordered for delivery in December ended on Monday at $2.2080 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange — the highest price since February 2012, WSJ says. A commodities strategist betting on the futures market also told WSJ he expects coffee-trading prices to rise from here, to $2 to $3 a pound next year.

For cup-of-joe consumers, though, the effects will not be immediate. WSJ reports that Starbucks has already fixed prices with suppliers to meet its needs in 2015, though prices for 2016 are still in the works.

The recent coffee harvest in Brazil was the smallest in three years and follows Brazil’s worst drought in decades. Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of coffee beans, though the largest importer to the U.S. market — where Americans spend about $40 billion a year on coffee — is Mexico, the U.S. National Coffee Association says.

[WSJ]

MONEY Food & Drink

7 Reasons Our Coffee Habit Is Costing More These Days

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In a relatively short period of time, the American coffee habit has gotten a lot more expensive.

Monday, September 29, is National Coffee Day, when restaurant and coffee chains around the country are giving out free (or extremely cheap) cups of Joe to the masses. The day is quite the exception, however, given how as a nation we are spending more and more on coffee.

Here are 7 reasons why:

We’re drinking coffee earlier in life. A study published this year by S&D Coffee & Tea shows that on average, younger millennials start drinking coffee at age 15, while older millennials picked up the habit at 17. Typical members of Gen X, meanwhile, started drinking coffee at 19.

More of us drink coffee regularly. U.S. coffee consumption rose 5% in 2013, according to a National Coffee Association survey, meaning that today 83% of the adult population drinks coffee; 75% have coffee at least once a week.

And we’re drinking higher-priced coffee at that. Data from 2014 shows that 34% of Americans drink gourmet coffee daily, an increase of 3% over last year. Young people in particular are willing to pay higher prices for coffee: In a new PayPal poll, 18% of people age 18 to 34 said they are willing to pay more than $3 per cup, compared with just 8% of those age 50 to 64.

We eat breakfast outside the home more often. Our fast-moving, on-the-go culture has been blamed as a reason for declining sales of cereal and milk, as more Americans are skipping the traditional breakfast at home and opting for foods that can be eaten on the run, like Pop Tarts and fast food via the drive-thru. In fact, breakfast has become enormously important to quick-serve restaurants because it’s the one mealtime experiencing strong growth lately. Coffee purchased at a restaurant or on the go at a convenience store or café is always more expensive than coffee brewed and drunk at home.

One word: Keurig. “In 2002, the average price of a coffee maker was about $35,” a recent post at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management blog stated. “By 2013, that number had risen to around $90.” Truth be told, it’s still easy to find a coffee maker for $35 or even less, it’s just that the type of machine—the traditional kind that brews ground coffee by the pot—is no longer typical. It’s been replaced by the pricier single-cup brewer that came into the mainstream over the last decade thanks to the Keurig company. For many consumers, the speed and convenience of such machines outweighs the premium one must pay beyond the plain old-fashioned coffee maker. Some 1.7 million single-cup Keurig brewers were sold in the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 200,000 over the same period a year before.

Plus, K-Cups themselves are pricier. It’s not just the single-cup machines that cost more—the cups themselves do too. The price per single-serve K-Cup pod varies widely depending on the style of roast, whether you’re buying a small pack or stocking up in bulk, and how strategically you shop for deals. But no matter how good you are at snagging deals, you’ll almost always pay more for coffee pods than you will for old-fashioned ground or whole bean coffee. One price-comparison study conducted a couple of years ago indicated that K-Cup coffee cost more than $50 per pound, roughly four times the cost of a bag of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts beans. What’s more, K-Cups are subject to a 9% across-the-board price hike in early November. (Side note: Mother Jones and others have pointed out that single-use K-Cups cost more and are worse for the environment than recyclable pod filters, though Keurig Green Mountain has plans to make all K-Cup pods fully recyclable by 2020.)

All coffee is simply getting more expensive. A long-lasting drought in Brazil (the world’s biggest producer of coffee beans) has pushed global coffee prices to near-record highs, and the market may be affected for years to come. Already this year, java junkies have faced price hikes from coffee brands such as Starbucks, Folgers, Maxwell House, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Interestingly, even as coffee has gotten more expensive and economic growth hasn’t exactly been sizzling in recent years, Starbucks sales have outpaced lower-priced competitors Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. What does that show us? For the most part, coffee lovers are passionate about their caffeinated beverages and aren’t going to trade down to what they view as an inferior cup of Joe, even if doing so would save a couple of bucks here and there.

MONEY

Wake Up! Monday Is National Coffee Day and There’s Free Coffee to Be Had

A sea of to-go coffee cups
Paul Kooiman—Gallery Stock

On Monday, September 29, a.k.a. National Coffee Day, plenty of regional and national restaurant chains will pour you a coffee for free—or at most, $1.

Fake marketing holiday or not, Monday, Sept. 29 is being celebrated as National Coffee Day, and that means free (or nearly so) coffee can be had at several donut, fast food, and coffee specialists around the country. Here’s where to score an extra jolt of caffeine on the cheap:

Dunkin’ Donuts: All customers get a free medium cup of Dark Roast CoffeeDD’s new flavor, a surprising one from the chain—on September 29, and from September 30 to October 5, the same coffee (medium size Dark Roast) is being sold at the special price of 99¢.

Kangaroo Express: A 12 oz. cup of the convenience store chain’s Bean Street Coffee costs just 1¢ from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Monday.

Krispy Kreme: Help yourself to a free cup of 12 oz. coffee, or get $1 off a mocha, latte, or ice coffee.

Lamar’s Donuts: The Colorado-based donut chain is giving away free 12 oz. coffees on National Donut Day.

McDonald’s: Monday is actually the culmination of a two-week coffee giveaway at McDonald’s, which has provided one complimentary small coffee during morning hours since September 16.

Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.: Customers get a free coffee (hot or ice) with the purchase of any menu item.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea: Participating stores are giving free samples of coffee and espresso, and all beverages are available on a buy-one-get-one-free basis; also, bags of coffee (ground or whole bean) are discounted by $2 apiece at Peet’s on Monday.

Tim Horton’s: The Canadian quick-serve chain gave out free donuts on National Donut Day, but sadly, customers have to cough up actual money for coffee on National Coffee Day. Any size coffee costs $1, and the promotion stretches from September 22 to 29.

Wawa: Fill out a form linked to from the Wawa Facebook page and you’ll get a coupon valid for a free 16 oz. coffee on Monday.

TIME Food & Drink

The 8 Craziest Coffee Drinks You Can Buy Now

Coffee drink latte
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The sweetest, booziest and weirdest ways to get your caffeine fix

Long gone are the days when grabbing some coffee involved, well, simply grabbing some coffee. Today’s java landscape is dotted with half-this and iced-that and frappés and mocha lattes (you gotta do pilates) — and it seems the assortment of caffeinated confections is only getting crazier.

Here, a look at some of the most decadent confections being sold today.

1. Guinness-flavored latte

Forget about the beloved pumpkin spice latte, because Starbucks is taking things to a whole new level with its Dark Barrel Latte, which mimics the taste of Guinness (without the alcohol.) The chain recently began testing this new beverage at select locations, so we’ll have to wait and see if it makes it to the official Starbucks menu.

Where to get it: Select Starbucks locations in Florida and Ohio (possibly nationwide in the future)

2. Elephant poop coffee

Yes, really. Deemed the world’s most expensive brew, Black Ivory Coffee is made from Arabica beans from Thailand that first pass through an elephant’s digestive system and are then harvested from the resulting dung. The process brings out the natural sugar in the bean while removing the bitterness, supposedly resulting in a uniquely delicious cup of joe.

Where to get it: Select five-star hotels across Asia, and just one U.S. location in Texas; Beans available online for $779 (with a grinder) or $664 (without a grinder)

3. Coffee in edible waffle cups

Everyone knows the best way to consume soup is in a bread bowl — because when you finish the soup, you get to eat its container! — and one California coffeehouse has applied this concept to its beverages. Customers can order their espressos and macchiatos in edible waffle cups tripled-dipped in chocolate, so when they’re finished with their caffeine boost, they can enjoy a sweet coffee-soaked snack. Perfection.

Where to get it: Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in Los Angeles

4. Affogato

Ice cream or gelato. Topped with a shot of hot espresso. That’s it. Simple, pure bliss.

Where to get it: Many Italian restaurants and cafes will make this drink for you, or you can make one at home

5. Koffie Van Brunt

This decadent, boozy concoction is served at Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance and contains aged rum, Cherry Heering, coffee, and cream. As TimeOut New York once noted, the “swirling layer of ivory white cream, burnished brown java and bright orange zest makes this drink as pretty to look at as it is tasty to sip.”

Where to get it: Fort Defiance in Brooklyn, NY, or make it at home with this recipe

6. The Vincent Vega

This confection — essentially a coffee-spiked Coca-Cola — is named after Jon Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction, who memorably ordered a vanilla Coke with his steak. The drink, available at The Mission in San Francisco, includes Coca-Cola, a shot of espresso, vanilla syrup, served over ice.

Where to get it: Any of The Mission’s three locations in San Francisco

7. Coffee Beer Repeat

Can’t decide if you’re in the mood to take the edge off with a beer or add a little edge with coffee? At Houndstooth, a coffee shop in downtown Austin, you don’t have to make that difficult decision. You can simply order the Coffee Beer Repeat. It’s considered one drink, but really, it’s just two pints of beer and two shots of espresso all served separately. You can get them in whichever order you want and space them out as you choose.

Where to get it: Houndstooth in Austin, or you can make it pretty easily at home

8. Toasted Marshmallow Latte

Like a warm, toasty campfire in a cup, this concoction includes espresso, steamed milk and a roasted marshmallow on a stick. Yes, an ACTUAL ROASTED MARSHMALLOW. On a stick.

Where to get it: Big Shoulders Coffee in Chicago

TIME Food & Drink

Starbucks Is Testing a Drink That Tastes Like Guinness (Without the Alcohol)

Operations Inside A Starbucks Corp. Coffee Shop
Jason Alden—Bloomberg / Getty Images

It's called the Dark Barrel Latte and comes topped with whipped cream and dark caramel sauce

If you’re already panicking about what you’re going to drink once Starbucks stops selling its beloved seasonal pumpkin spice latte, don’t worry, because the chain is now testing out a brand new flavor. This one, though, is not meant to evoke the feelings of strolling through a pumpkin patch in a pair of Ugg boots on a crisp autumn Saturday. Not at all. This one is meant to taste like a nice dark Irish stout.

The new drink, called the Dark Barrel Latte, is being tested at select locations across Ohio and Florida, Grubstreet reports. It doesn’t contain any alcohol, but it supposedly contains the dark, toasty, malty flavors of Guinness. A BuzzFeed writer who got his hands on one in Columbus confirmed that it really does taste like stout. Several customers who’ve tweeted about the drink agree that it tastes like Guinness — but the jury’s still out on whether or not that’s actually a good thing.

When I asked a colleague who was born and raised in Dublin (Guinness’s birthplace) how he felt about all this, he responded first with this GIF. Then, as he mulled it over a bit more, he added, “Holy hell. Worst.” Then he posed a question: “American Guinness already doesn’t taste like Guinness. So what will this taste like?” Then he barfed all over me and my stupid American ignorance.

MONEY freebies

McDonald’s Is Giving Away Free Coffee for the Next 2 Weeks

All McDonald's customers get free coffee during breakfast hours over the next two weeks, starting Tuesday, September 16.

From September 16 to 29, participating McDonald’s restaurants around the country are giving one free small McCafé coffee per customer during the location’s breakfast hours—generally from around 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The move comes at a time when the world’s fast food giants are embroiled in a battle for consumers’ breakfast dollars, when on-the-go Americans are less likely to be eating cereal or anything else at home—and are more prone to swing by a chain restaurant for a quick fix of calories and caffeine. After Taco Bell launched a breakfast menu earlier this year (and also launched some funny ads poking fun of Ronald McDonald to generate attention), McDonald’s responded by giving away coffee for a 14-day period starting in late March.

The new coffee giveaway, roughly six months after the first one, is basically a repeat performance, a McDonald’s statement explained: “This event builds on McDonald’s first-ever Free Coffee Event launched in March, when the company gave away millions of cups of free coffee during the two-week period.”

With a two-week giveaway in the fall, a few weeks after the new school year started—when mornings for families and students still feel exceptionally hectic and harried—McDonald’s is likely seeking to position itself as a quick and convenient habit that’ll help you get your day started a little easier. The idea is to give out lots of free coffee now, with the goal being that 1) customers will buy breakfast when they’re picking up free coffee; and 2) customers will keep coming back for breakfast and coffee (and perhaps lunch and dinner, too) long after the freebie promotion is over.

It also must be noted that the promotion comes on the heels of McDonald’s suffering through a horrible month for sales in August, when global same-story sales were down 3.7%. Giveaways are always known to juice sales, and McDonald’s is hoping that this giveaway more than pays for itself in the form of boosting sales in the long run.

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