January 9, 2014

Pay Per Minute: The Café Edition

The Guardian on a new 3-pence-a-minute coffee shop in London:

Ziferblat means clock face in Russian and German (Zifferblatt). The idea is guests take an alarm clock from the cupboard on arrival and note the time, then keep it with them, before, quite literally, clocking out at the end. There’s no minimum time. Guests can also get stuck into the complimentary snacks (biscuits, fruit, vegetables), or prepare their own food in the kitchen; they can help themselves to coffee from the professional machine, or have it made for them. There’s even a piano — an idea that could seem brilliant or terrible, depending on who takes the seat.

I’m a coffee shop regular so this naturally caught my eye. The hourly rate of £1.80 at Ziferblat is lower than the average (£1.89) and median (£2.00) prices of an espresso cup in London. You cross the median cost not long after the one hour mark though, at 67 minutes.

Interesting concept, but I’m not sure how viable this business model is. The article notes the company has 10 branches in Russia, but says nothing about their profitability or the rates over there. For coffee shops (and unestablished chains), big cities are tough to survive in unless you manage to cultivate some kind of subculture around your location(s).

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