How to Nail Your Next National Coffee Day Promotion

Perhaps your social media calendar is empty. Your shop is slower than usual. You haven’t released a new menu item or hosted an event in months. If you haven’t had a reason to attract customers to your shop in a while, food and drink holidays, like National Coffee Day (September 29th), can be a fun and easy way to engage customers and increase sales. 

Found on marketing calendars (like this one from Foodimentary), holidays like National Coffee Day are an opportunity for levity in marketing and brand building. 

National Coffee Day has been gaining popularity since its inception in 2005. Since then, online searches for “National Coffee Day” have continued to rise, with more and more large national brands taking part in the fun. Brands offering freebies and discounts to coffee lovers across the country can increase foot traffic and online sales, engage staff, and delights customers without a significant marketing budget. 

Delight in Authenticity

California-based Verve Coffee has celebrated National Coffee Day since its first shop opened in 2007. What started as giving out a simple cup of free batch brew to patrons on this most caffeinated day has evolved to social media-based coffee subscription giveaways, gifts with purchase for online sales, and more. 

Photo by Demi DeHerrera

Verve’s annual National Coffee Day promotions bring in foot traffic and engagement on social media and cultivate a sense of excitement within the staff. “Promotions that are genuine to the brand are successful for us,” says Lisa Cappelloni, head of communications for Verve. “Our staff gets excited, and we love sharing coffee with our customers. It’s a fun and authentic way for us to engage with customers, and plus, who doesn’t love a free cup of coffee?”

Although Verve’s observance of the holiday has developed over time, celebrating National Coffee Day can be as simple as you’d like. Leveraging this (and other fun holidays) can be as easy as surprising your regular customers with a free cup of coffee when they come in—but it’s also an opportunity for more. 

Leveraging Excitement

A thoughtful promotion can take advantage of your brand and staff strengths. National Coffee Day can build awareness, increase sales, and strengthen your relationships with your customers, contributing to brand loyalty over time. 

So how can you get in on the fun?

Bring In Employees 

As the first people customers interact with, baristas can contribute significantly to the success of a promotion. Enthusiastic employees will be excited to share the promotion and will help your customers feel taken care of and appreciated. 

“We can generally test the temperature of the fun-factor by seeing how our staff responds. If our baristas are excited about a promotion, it’s a pretty clear indicator of its success in our retail channel. Our baristas are our strongest brand ambassadors, and if they’re excited about a holiday or promotion, our customers by extension are excited about it too, making it all worthwhile,” says Cappelloni. 

Use The #NationalCoffeeDay Hashtag

Jumping on trends is a great way to cultivate a new audience while delighting your current one. Use the hashtag #NationalCoffeeDay to share photos and videos of your shop, baristas, beverages, and more. The hashtag will push your posts to a new audience and, potentially, a new customer base. 

Photo by Robert Bye

Your followers and customers want a discount, of course, but they also want to support you. Give them notice and reminders to come in on this day so you can celebrate with them! 

Reach Out to Local News Outlets

Broadcast news channels love celebrating holidays like National Coffee Day and featuring local businesses. Once you’ve decided on a promotion, reach out to see if they’re interested in having you on air to talk more about your offerings and brand on National Coffee Day. 

Launch A New Drink

It’s fun to launch a new menu offering. Whether it’s a limited-edition release, or the debut of a new staple, adding a new item to the menu can inspire creativity and excitement among employees and customers.

For example, challenge your baristas to develop inventive drink combinations that become staff and customer favorites. Encourage their creativity with a signature beverage contest. Allow customers to vote and announce the winner on National Coffee Day! 

Host An Event

An attraction like a DJ, live band, poetry reading, or local art showcase helps demonstrate that National Coffee Day, coffee, and your shop are all things to be truly celebrated. Make it a party! 

Get Inspired

Still not convinced you should celebrate National Coffee Day? Here are some deals happening this year to use as inspiration. 

Dunkin’ is offering a free medium hot or iced coffee with any purchase to its Perks members.

Extending the promotion beyond just National Coffee Day, Atlas Coffee Club is offering a free 12-ounce bag of premium single-origin coffee with any new subscription (use code ATLASCOFFEEDAY22, customers pay for shipping). 

On September 29th, Verve Coffee Roasters will offer a free cup of batch brew all day at all locations. They’ll also give five lucky winners a year’s worth of coffee via a social media giveaway. The giveaway opens on September 29th and closes by 11:59 p.m. PST on October 1st. Check out Verve’s Instagram account to learn more. 

Offering a gift with purchase promotion, Sheetz customers can get a free cold brew coffee by purchasing any in-store item. 

Combining the fun of a giveaway and the perks of customer loyalty programs, Dutch Bros Coffee is giving Dutch Rewards members the opportunity to win up to one year of free coffee. By using the Dutch Bros app and scanning their Dutch Pass at the window, customers are automatically entered to win. 

For more National Coffee Day inspiration, check out #NationalCoffeeDay on Instagram.

National Coffee Day is a great excuse to infuse more creativity into everyday life and celebrate the small—but mighty—pleasure that coffee brings. “It’s a fun way to celebrate and show appreciation for your customers,” says Cappelloni. “At Verve, we’re all about what we call ‘Making Days’—it’s how we bring joy and appreciation to our customers.” 

Cover photo by Nathan Dumlao 

Rachel Sandstrom Morrison is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer, public relations professional, and brand strategist.