Five Places to Get Cheap Coffee

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

This month Starbucks jacked up the price of its coffee, adding five cents to all of its java drinks. To help local coffee drinkers keep their buzz without breaking the bank, we scouted out five places to get a cheap -- or free -- cup of joe.

Banks and car repair shops . Many businesses such as Bank of America and Jiffy Lube provide free coffee (bottomless, as long as the pot is full) for customers. Even if you just pick up a pamphlet on low mortgage rates or schedule an appointment for an oil change, you can still grab a cup to go.

Eastern Market. Various food vendors in the food hall serve piping-hot coffee for about a buck. Pine Sweet Shop fills 12-ounce cups for $1.10. Seventh Street and North Carolina Avenue SE, 202-543-9729, http://www.easternmarketdc.com/ .

Quartermaine Coffee Roasters. The roasting plant in Rockville offers free tours of its facility that include coffee tastings. In addition, the Quartermaine coffee shop in Bethesda usually provides free samples of its coffees, frappes and other drinks. Quartermaine coffee shop, 4817 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-718-2853; Roasting Plant and Support Center, 4972 Wyaconda Rd., Rockville, 301-230-4600. For tours, call 301-230-4600, Ext. 110, http://www.quartermaine.com/ .

Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Co-op. At the natural foods store, pour yourself a steaming 16-ouncer for 99 cents. As a bonus, the French roast, decaf and regular are all organic. Two locations: 201 Ethan Allen Ave., Takoma Park, 301-891-2667; and 8309 Grubb Rd., Silver Spring, 240-247-2667, http://tpss.coop/ .

Tastee Diner. Slap down $1 for an eight-ounce cup of Maxwell House to go, with or without the caffeine jolt. (If you grab a stool and drink your coffee inside, however, the price jumps into the Starbucks range.) Three locations: 8601 Cameron St., Silver Spring, 301-589-8171; 7731 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-3970; and 118 Washington Blvd. S., Laurel, 301-953-7567, http://www.tasteediner.com/ .

-- Andrea Sachs


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