Thursday, June 04, 2015

#PayPalitTO Series | Eating & Drinking For Free in Toronto [Using PayPal] - Episode 1: Dineen Coffee

Before I commence this post, I want to state that this is not sponsored by PayPal or any of the locations I mention by any means. The following expressed are my opinions of the PayPal app, its promotions, and the locations I go to.

Yes, that's right. It is possible.
No, this isn't from whatever you took/stole from your campus cupboard (or someone's house).
Ever since I discovered PayPal's app & their promos to use it using $5-10 vouchers when using PayPal at certain cafés, restaurants and bars, I start gallivanting around the city of Toronto to get as many free coffees, pastries, lattes, and other kinds of food before the coupon's expiration date.
Not many people know about it unfortunately, so for starters I'll lay down the conditions to get over $50.00 CAD of free stuff.

✎-------------------------------------------------------How to Get $5 Vouchers via PayPal------------------------------------------------------------

1. aka "Captain Obvious Rule": get a PayPal account (if you don't have one already)
Connect your bank account and/or credit account (or both if you have a Visa Debit card). I highly suggest this (I don't think using the vouchers works otherwise but I'm not 100% sure on this fact..) but this is good in case your bill exceeds the voucher amount (so it dips in whatever account you made available).

2. Be an "adult" (aka be 18 or over)
I only know this since I promoted this to a former co-worker of mine who was still (is still?) in high school, tried getting the account synced to the PayPal app, and received the bad (ageist?) news.

3. Have a smartphone
This is iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry compatible.

4. Have a smartphone that isn't that old
I know this more concerns Apple devices, but double check if your device is compatible here.

5. (Optional but very helpful depending on the location): Have data/some sort of data plan
This is helpful but you can do without it. Most places have free wifi. Another option is grab a friend along for this foodie joy ride that has data/can provide a wifi hotspot for you and you're good to go (I shameless did this. no regrets)!

Once you've completed all most these steps, you're set! All the food! All the caffeine! All the iced drinks! 

Now on to the actual promotional details...
PayPal occasionally does these kind of promotions which are available at a variety of locations. When this happened last summer, I would never guessed that this would repeat every so often within the next year or so. Most places that I am featuring that do this have provided these coupons more than once.
I rarely check the app for these promotions (which you can do by logging in and tapping the "Shop" button) but the other day, I discovered that there are over 30 coupons! 30!!!!
Why such an absurd number? Do most of these places need that much promotion (well, technically, PayPal does..)?
Turns out the locations that do carry the promotion are carrying two $5.00 vouchers. One expires sooner than the other so be aware of that.
 Screenshot of the vouchers used at Dineen Coffee

Something to keep in mind: You can only one coupon per purchase. I learned this (semi) the hard way when I went over the limit at Dineen's (not by much thankfully, but still).

The best way to work around this is:
(a) Make two separate purchases using PayPal (did this 98% of the time. They're cool with that...thankfully..)
(b) Go to the location on separate occasions (doing this 0.000000005% 2% of time) Actually did that with Dineen Coffee

No, on to the #PayPalitTO series!

While I (might) compile an entire list of places that have this promotion, I'm going to document the places I've gone to, what I've gotten with these coupons, and finally, my overall review of their drinks and/or food, and experience (both past & present will be mentioned since I've been to many of these places before).

First up: Dineen Coffee

Dineen Coffee is situated in the heart of the Financial District on 140 Yonge St (South of Richmond St E). It stands out amidst the vast chain of Starbucks and Tim Hortons and gets pretty busy by the beginning of the lunch hour.

Like Bar Volo north of Wellesley Station, people who aren't hipsters don't live in the West End of Toronto like the more artsier/hipster-esque/West-End Toronto-esque bars. So much so that they garner too many  lots of people from their lunch break.

I've been to Dineen's once before. It was evening and the atmosphere felt very evening, almost dreary, especially when it's quiet. It's not like all coffee places become like this post-rush hour, but I wasn't getting good vibes from this place before. And yes, that first time I did have a voucher but my overall experience with the counter staff that time too wasn't too pleasant either.
This time around felt different. It was pretty crowded, and that to me was my only low point about this place, and that's mainly due to the fact that I prefer a much more quiet atmosphere.

I enjoyed the decor more after seeing it through natural lighting. It's art deco-esque style, classic library furnishings and artistic light fixtures felt inviting to the space (if only there was some available space).

The staff seemed much more friendlier despite the lineup that was starting to pass the entrance right after I arrived. I hadn't broke my fast yet, and opted for a regular cappuccino paired with a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant for all you peasants out there). The total came to $6.95, so with one voucher, I only paid the $1.95 remaining.

Although I didn't take a photo of this, they serve a wide selection of sandwiches besides pastries. When I re-visited to use the second voucher (this time around 12:30 pm), they were already out of them.

✎-------------------------------------------------------------------Overall Verdict--------------------------------------------------------------------
Cappuccino was delicious (no sugar/sweeteners added). No too gritty, very smooth.
Pain au chocolat was alright. The chocolate was hard inside but in all fairness, some people prefer it that way (I don't). I've had (and soon will have) better croissants/pastries as I continue on my #PayPalitTO journey.

Be sure to use the first $5.00 voucher by Sunday, June 7, 2015! 
The second voucher expires by Sunday, June 14, 2015.

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