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Iced tea, anyone? Panera debuts $10.99 monthly subscription for all drinks.

All-you-can-drink offer builds on similar program for coffee Panera launched in 2020.

Panera Bread's chief executive hopes the “Unlimited Sip Club” subscription will reap similar benefits as the company's foray into infinite coffee.Steven Senne/Associated Press

‘Tis the season of endless lemonade.

Panera Bread is expanding its monthly coffee subscription program Tuesday to include all 26 beverages on the menu — for $10.99 a month.

“We disrupted the coffee industry and made premium coffee accessible to everyone,” Panera chief executive Niren Chaudhary said in an interview with The Boston Globe. “This is the future.”

He hopes the “Unlimited Sip Club” subscription will reap similar benefits as Panera’s foray into infinite coffee. Launched in February 2020, that program has garnered some 350,000 paying subscribers, who shell out $8.99 each month for roasted brews. They’re allowed one refillable cup every two hours.

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And its success is clear, Chaudhary said. Members buy coffee eight times as frequently as other customers and add food to accompany their drinks 30 percent of the time. Compared to diners outside of the MyPanera loyalty program, which has 45 million members, coffee subscribers spent up to 11 times as much money in 2021.

The initiative also contributed to a spike in breakfast sales for egg white sandwiches, chipotle chicken morning wraps, soufflés, and oatmeals.

“When the beverage is no longer a barrier, customers are attracted to our best-in-class food,” Chaudhary said.

At 14 Massachusetts locations and beyond, existing coffee subscribers can pay $8.99 for unlimited beverages of all kinds until 2023. Then they must choose to keep the subscription for $10.99 or drop it entirely, since the coffee-only program is now gone.

As an added perk, guests who sign up for the Unlimited Sip Club through May 6 will receive a free subscription until July 4.

Panera’s coffee launch in 2020 proved to be serendipitous timing. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed customers to embrace digital-first ordering, which has found a home at almost every food service competitor. Nearly 38 percent of Panera orders came from kiosks, Web, or mobile orders before COVID, compared to 47 percent of transactions today, Chaudhary said.

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Automation has become a broader theme in food service. Dunkin’ also opened a kiosk-only location — sans human cashiers — in September. It followed in the footsteps of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and even AMC Theaters, which all recently opened kiosks. Starbucks is in the midst of testing drive-through-only locations with little to no sit-down service, too, and Sweetgreen may eventually offer robot-prepared salads.

A lineup of Panera drinks. Customers can now sign up for a $10.99 monthly subscription that covers all 26 drinks on the chain's menu.PANERA BREAD

Now, Chaudhary sees the sip club as a means to an end. Including all drinks in the Panera subscription could boost interest in lunch and dinner orders, which account for 80 percent of the St. Louis-based company’s sales, he said.

It’s also debuting alongside Panera’s new charged lemonades, caffeinated Guarana, and green coffee extract beverages in three flavors: strawberry lemon mint, Fuji apple cranberry, and mango yuzu citrus.

“If we provide the same benefit of accessibility, of disruptive value at a flat price point, allowing customers to drink whatever they want, whenever they want, as much as they’d like,” Chaudhary said, “it’ll multiply the impact for Panera. This is a much bigger playground.”


Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.