How to Save Money When Working on Your Laptop at Cafes

I spend a lot of time working on my laptop at coffee shops. Here are a few quick tips on how to save money.

Order Tea Instead of Coffee

If you find a cafe with high-quality, loose-leaf tea, you can refill the hot water several times. I recommend a good oolong tea. You can get three or four drinks for the price of one. I just paid about USD $2.50 for a pot of oolong tea that will allow four or five steepings.

Vienna cafe
Das Möbel cafe in Vienna, Austria

Watch Out for Iced Drinks

I find that I tend to drink iced drinks more quickly. I usually ask for a glass of water with any iced drink, and when I finish the drink, I pour the water over the ice to make a second drink. I don’t let the waitstaff take my glass — I tell them that I’m drinking the water as the ice melts. There is less pressure to buy something else if you haven’t finished your drink yet.

Cheaper Iced Drinks

An iced latte is basically a shot or two of espresso with some milk on top — except that it costs much more than an espresso. Instead, you can order a “double expresso on ice” in a small cup. Then just add a bit of milk yourself. It’s much cheaper and it’s basically the same drink. It doesn’t cost the cafe any more money either other than losing the opportunity to sell you a few spoonfuls of milk for an extra $2.50.

I would only do this with a small cup since the point is just to make the drink that you want without getting ripped off. When I’ve done this, I only add a little milk anyway.

Avoid Pastries, Snacks, and Food

If you eat pastries while you work, you will gain weight. It’s better to put a healthy snack, like fruit, in your backpack and step outside to eat it.

Taipei cafe
Cafe in Taipei, Taiwan

Check Foursquare

If you have a smartphone, check out the cafe’s Foursquare page to see if they have any deals available.

Ask for a Rewards Card

Many cafes have reward cards where you can buy 10 drinks and get one free. The employees usually don’t mention it though, so you might have to ask.

If anyone has other tips for saving money at cafes, leave a comment below.

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