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April 13, 2021

Subway, Starbucks giving away free coffee this month

There was a time, not too long ago, when Tim Hortons and Starbucks weren’t gonna let no chumps sell coffee in this country.

The two giants had a stranglehold on the coffee market – there had grown to be more than 3,000 locations of the two chains across Canada – and few other brewers could carve out their own territory.

But then McDonalds started giving its coffee away last year and, suddenly ... hey, maybe Tim and Howard Schultz aren’t the only guys that can make a good cup of joe.

Indeed, the success of Mickey Ds’ giveaway has prompted an array of promotional fast food freebies (most recently, Burger King had a morning of free breakfast sandwiches), but none seem to go over quite as well as free coffee.

And, really, for a familiar name trying to break new ground, what better way to throw the public’s perception of your brand than with freebies?

Subway has become the latest restaurant to try its hand at a coffee giveaway, shelling out free, no-purchase-necessary cups at its B.C. and Alberta franchises.

(For whatever reason, these are the only two provinces participating in the promo for now, and no number of nationwide Subways I called today could verify why the whole chain of Canadian restaurants isn’t on the same page for this one.)

In any case, western Canadians can head into Subway until April 22 (Disclaimer: since there are no corporate Subway offices, we can’t verify if every B.C./Alberta restaurant is participating in this promo, but one Vancouver restaurant manager did assure me they all are) and get a free cup of coffee, no strings attached.

The rest of us? If we’re short on a free coffee fix, check out Starbucks this Thursday.

The Seattle-based chain is offering a free fill-up on a brewed or iced coffee if you bring in a reusable travel mug, no purchase necessary. It’s part of their “Shared Planet” initiative.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...