Back in the day, they had something called a "coffee refill". See, your coffee cup was replenished for free or a lesser fee. Flo used to do it. Alice too. But in these artisan coffee times, free or cheap replenishment at your preferred caffeine purveyor is hard to come by. To find out why, we asked noted barista Maxwell Mooney of The Spotted Cow in Mill Creek, WA.
Mooney explains to SFist:
"Good coffee is really pretty expensive. It's the most expensive part of a cafe drink. Espresso uses anywhere from 15-22 grams of coffee for a double espresso. Brewed coffee uses about the same amount for an 8-10 oz. serving." So, when someone gets like 4 refills on their coffee, we are losing even more money. Brewed coffee is usually one of our lowest margins. As it is, but at 4 cups refilled (plus wifi from most customers) we are usually losing money depending on the quality of the coffee. And you don't get free refills on espresso. If the coffee is good, you shouldn't give it away. Do you get free refills on craft beer or wine?"
As for local craft coffee refills, they're few and far between. We talked to several local coffee shop of note to see what their refill policy. Here's what they had to say:
The Creamery (Ritual): "We charge $1"
Epicenter (Chromatic Coffee Co.): "We don't do refills."
Four Barrel: "No refills."
Peet's Coffee & Tea: "$1 during your visit."
Ritual Roasters: "I don't understand the question," later adding, "Oh that, we don't do that. Sorry."
Philz: "If you bring in a personal cup or reuse on of our cups, we charge you for a small."
Saint Frank: "We don't do that."
Sightglass: "We usually don't do that, but if you ask your barista nicely, they might do it for free."
If you want a true free-refill experience, though, you'll have to head to Lucky Penny.