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Panera Bread Announces $8.99-per-month Coffee Subscription

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Panera Bread Co. is launching a new subscription program that will allow customers to drink unlimited coffee and tea.

The new program of $8.99 per month launches Thursday and covers hot coffee, iced coffee and hot tea. With the introduction of the subscription, Panera becomes the first national restaurant company to offer unlimited hot drip coffee, iced coffee and hot tea for $8.99 per month.

The new subscription includes one cup of drip hot coffee, hot tea, or iced coffee every two hours during regular bakery-cafe hours, including free refills of the same beverage at participating U.S. Panera Bread bakery-cafes.

The program is intended to boost the privately held sandwich chain's loyalty program membership, which currently has 38 million members.

The coffee subscription is available to members of MyPanera, Panera's free loyalty program. MyPanera members can register for the subscription via the Panera website and mobile app.

Customers can also sign up via QR code that will be available in Panera bakery-cafes nationwide beginning Monday, March 2.

Panera launched the coffee subscription program after testing it over a three-month period at 150 locations in four markets - Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville and Raleigh. In the test markets, the subscribers' monthly visits reportedly rose more than 200 percent.

In the last year, Panera revamped and expanded its drip and iced coffee offerings, introducing new coffee blends, freshly ground every day and made from Arabica whole beans.

In addition to its revamped coffee offerings and as part of its commitment to plant-based options, Panera has removed the upcharge for plant-based milk in all U.S. Panera bakery-cafes.

Almond milk is now available on the coffee station free of charge, and the company is actively exploring adding other non-dairy alternatives.

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