Best Examples of Coffee Shop Rewards Programs & Why They Work

Best Examples of Coffee Shop Rewards Programs & Why They Work

Rewards programs are more than just a perk; they're a pivotal strategy for coffee shops to increase revenue and retention. A staggering 79% of consumers report a stronger loyalty to brands that offer rewards programs. Not only do they bring more people through the door, but they enhance the overall value of each guest over time. Plus, a rewards program is a great way to make your coffee shop stand out in a crowded market.

To get you started or help improve your existing program, here's a look at some of the all-time best coffee shop rewards programs.


1. Starbucks

Starbucks Rewards is one of the most successful coffee shop rewards programs ever. Bringing in 40% of their total sales, the coffee shop chain's rewards program has over 24.2 million members in the US alone.

How it Works

It’s all about earning stars—spend a dollar, earn two stars. Once members hit 125 stars, they get a free drink or food.

Their rewards program has three tiers:

  1. Welcome level (0-59 stars): Members get a free birthday drink, just for signing up.
  2. Green level (60-299 stars): For just 60 stars, members get a free drink, drink size upgrade, or slice of cake with their coffee during their birthday month.
  3. Gold level (300+ stars): Gold members get everything the other levels get, plus a special gold card, personalized offers, and a free drink for every 15 stars. If they earn 30 more stars after reaching 300, they can keep their Gold status for another year.

All members can enjoy “double star days”, play exclusive games, and get special offers from time to time. Starbucks also has a prepaid Visa card that will help members rack up stars faster when shopping at Starbucks or other retailers.

Stills of Starbucks rewards program UX

Why it Works

  • Convenience: The rewards program is integrated into Starbucks' mobile app, making it easy for guests to join, track their rewards, and make payments. This seamless integration encourages regular use and engagement.
  • Personalization: Starbucks utilizes guest data to offer personalized recommendations and rewards. This makes guests feel valued and encourages repeat visits.
  • Tiered Rewards System: The program's tiered structure motivates users to earn more stars (points) to reach higher levels, where they can enjoy greater benefits. This gamification aspect adds an element of fun and challenge.
  • Frequent Updates and Innovations: Starbucks regularly updates its rewards program, keeping it fresh and engaging over time.

2. Dunkin’

With over 2 million members, Dunkin's rewards program is up there with the best. In 2022, the new and improved Dunkin’ Rewards replaced the original DD Perks. Driven and designed around member feedback, the revamped rewards program introduced more food and beverage rewards, increased points flexibility, and an all-new Boosted Status—a special loyalty tier for Dunkin’s most dedicated fans.

How it Works

Their rewards program's winning recipe has three main parts:

  1. Earn Points: Dunkin’ Rewards members earn 10 points per $1 spent at Dunkin', which can be redeemed for free beverages and other items. Rewards start at 150 points ($15 spent), earning members a free espresso shot, three Doughnut Hole Treats, or six hash browns. Plus, when members visit 12 times in a month, they unlock Boosted Status—that means 20% more points (12 points per $1 spent) for a full 3 months.
  2. Exclusive Rewards: Dunkin' goes way beyond their standard points system. They offer lots of chances to rack up extra points and get cool rewards like extra points for special occasions, big seasonal discounts, unique codes, contests with cash prizes, and more. They know how to keep their guests coming back.
  3. Fuel Rewards: The “Sip Dunkin’, Save at Shell” partnership allows Fuel Rewards members and Dunkin' Rewards members to save 10 cents per gallon every time they purchase five beverages at a Dunkin’ location.

    Dunkin Rewards program points tiers

Why it Works

  • Ease of Earning Rewards: Dunkin’ Rewards is designed to be simple and rewarding, encouraging frequent visits. Members can earn stars for every purchase, not just on certain items or categories. Smart, since 50% of consumers say their number one reason for joining a loyalty program is to earn rewards on everyday purchases.
  • Effective Marketing: Dunkin' is great at engaging with followers on social media. Their regular campaigns and promos have got their rewards program members excited to spread the word by referring friends and sharing their love online. This keeps their rewards circle growing.
  • Adaptability and Evolution: What sets Dunkin's rewards program apart is how they keep their guests engaged, offering more than just points or free birthday drinks like everyone else. They’ve evolved with changing customer preferences and technology advancements, always finding new ways to keep their fans hooked.

3. Panera Bread

Launched in 2022, Panera Bread's rewards program, known as MyPanera, began as one of the earliest rewards programs. Today, it’s one of the largest loyalty programs in its industry, with nearly 48 million members. Unlike traditional points-based systems, MyPanera dishes out unexpected rewards, making the program feel more spontaneous and less transactional. And it works: in the first quarter of 2022, more than half of all Panera sales came from rewards members. MyPanera members also tend to visit more frequently and spend more per visit than non-members.

How it Works

  1. Earning Rewards: Instead of the traditional “points per dollar spent” model, rewards are based on the frequency of visits and the types of purchases made. Each time a member makes a purchase and scans their MyPanera card or app, it counts towards earning potential rewards.
  2. Personalized Rewards: The rewards offered are personalized based on each member's purchase history. This means members receive different rewards based on their unique preferences and previous purchases. Since September 2022, Panera’s new choice-based rewards allow members to select from several options based on their personal preferences, instead of a single pre-determined reward.
  3. Types of Rewards: Designed to surprise and delight members, rewards are unpredictable and unexpected. Rewards vary widely, from free bakery items to discounts on purchases, complimentary upgrades (like a free coffee or bagel), or a free meal after a certain number of visits.
  4. Member Exclusives: MyPanera members may receive exclusive offers, invitations to special events, or sneak peeks at new menu items. Sometimes, MyPanera offers challenges (like visiting a certain number of times in a month) that can lead to additional rewards.
  5. Panera's Unlimited Sip Club: Panera was the first place to offer an unlimited self-serve beverage subscription. MyPanera members can sign up for a monthly or yearly Unlimited Sip Club plan. Members can order a free self-serve beverage (hot drip coffee, iced coffee, hot tea, soda, and more) every two hours, plus get unlimited refills, all for $11.99 a month. And it's not just standard brews—skim milk, almond milk, half and half, and sweeteners are all included too. It pays off because members impulse buy tons of extra food, you know, "since they’re there already."

MyPanera rewards program UX

Why it Works

  • Hyper-Personalization: MyPanera's relationship-based rewards system gets to know members over time based on order history, making their rewards more and more personalized with the things they like most. The more they order, the better their rewards get—not a bad idea, considering 44% of consumers are craving more personalized rewards, based on their previous purchases.
  • Emotional Connection: Personalization also creates a stronger emotional connection with members, leading to stronger loyalty and more word-of-mouth promotion. Plus, rewards program members spend 27% more when they feel a positive emotional connection with a brand.
  • Surprise & Delight: MyPanera's spontaneous rewards create a more engaging experience for members, keeping them guessing and looking forward to what treats their next visit might bring.
  • Encourages Repeat Visits: Rewards based on visit frequency incentivize members to choose Panera Bread more often.

4. Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee’s award-winning rewards program, Caribou Perks, is recognized for its unique approach to enhancing the guest experience. With over two million active users, it's designed to reward and engage frequent visitors, offering a variety of benefits that make every purchase more than just a transaction.

How it Works

  1. Earn Points: Guests earn points by buying food and drinks in their stores, but also by shopping online for swag like clothes, gift sets, or mugs. Ordering ahead using the Caribou Coffee app or scanning and paying in-store with funds from their app account, will earn users two points for every dollar spent. Cash or credit/debit card payments will earn 1 point per dollar, edging them closer and closer to their next rewards milestone.
  2. Quick Rewards: What's cool is how quickly the rewards start flooding in. New rewards members get a free medium drink just for signing up! After that, they’re just 25 points (that's like spending $12.50) away from their next freebie—an upgrade to a bigger size coffee or an extra espresso shot for no extra cost. 50 points means a free coffee of any size, even an XL. For 150 points, members can pick any drink they want for free. Most other rewards programs require members to spend a lot more to get the same perks.
  3. Extra Perks: Caribou Coffee's rewards program offers loads of extra perks too. Members get 5% off coffee beans and K-Cup pods, plus exclusive deals like a free non-dairy milk upgrade when they order ahead on the app. Also, perks members get special access to cool promotions and are the first to know the latest news from Caribou Coffee.
  4. Reward Sharing: Caribou Perks has a unique reward-sharing feature. Members with extra rewards can choose to brighten someone's day using the Share-a-Perk option. By accessing the Caribou Coffee app, users can easily transfer rewards to a friend, who can then redeem them for various perks like larger drink sizes or free bakery items. This feature not only delights recipients but it’s an effective strategy for attracting new app users.

Caribou Coffee rewards program.

Why it Works

  • Variety of Rewards: Offering points for online merchandise purchases expands guest engagement beyond just buying coffee. An interesting approach, considering 46% of customers want loyalty programs to include gifts and swag. Plus, additional app discounts on things like coffee beans and specialty milks, appeal to a wider range of preferences.
  • Immediate Value: Earning rewards quickly creates immediate value for members. Guests who join a rewards program and redeem a reward are 68% more likely to purchase a second time than those who don’t join.
  • Referral Incentives: The option to share rewards with friends through the Share-a-Perk feature adds a social element to the program and serves as an effective marketing tool. It encourages current members to promote Caribou Coffee and helps attract new guests.


Wrap Up

Like Starbucks or Dunkin’, your coffee shop can have its own rewards program too. Craver’s custom-branded mobile apps include a built-in rewards platform that's perfect for treating your loyal guests. With rewards points, time-sensitive coupons, and exclusive discounts, you'll see your guests returning time and time again. Plus, Craver's push notifications feature allows you to ping offers directly to their lock screens, nudging them to reorder. 

Curious about how a custom-branded app and rewards program could transform your coffee shop? Schedule a demo with Craver today and see the Craver platform in action.

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