Offices are out, and pay-as-you-go cafés are in…
Have you ever visited your local café in the hope of enjoying a nice leisurely brunch, only to find that every table is taken up by a lone person tapping away on their laptop while nursing a cup of coffee that probably went cold an hour ago? Well, next time, you might want to point them in the direction of a pay-as-you-go café.
Apparently, the ‘coffice’ – a fusion of the coffee shop and the office – is where all the cool kids are working now. Rather than commuting to a boring office every day, bright young things are now more likely to head to their local coffee shop with their laptops to work for an hour or two, which can pose a problem for those who just want to pop in for coffee, cake and a natter and find no room at the inn. The solution? A café where you pay for the time you’ve spent there, rather than the beverages and food you’ve consumed – perfect for those looking to take advantage of free Wi-Fi and free-flowing coffee while they work.
This unique café concept may be new to these shores, but coffee lovers in Russia have been frequenting these pay-as-you-go spaces since 2011, when the first of the Ziferblat (meaning clock face in Russian and German) chain opened in Moscow. The Manchester branch is the latest of many Ziferblats that have since opened up across Europe – its next stop is New York. The first UK Ziferblat opened last year in hipster haven Shoreditch, and the team behind the chain hope to eventually open a Ziferblat in every University town.
Designed to be ‘the third space’ between work and home, Ziferblat hopes to be a place where you can ‘create, collaborate and play’. Everyone who visits is a ‘micro-tenant’ who is free to use the space how they like (within reason, of course), paying by the minute (around 5p) rather than by how many coffees and cakes they have. Each guest is simply required to grab one of the mismatched vintage clocks by the door when they enter, record the time they came in, and clock out again when they leave.
You don’t even have to have a beverage if you don’t want one – this place is about the use of the space itself rather than the food and drink, although reviews have asserted that the coffee is top-notch and the cakes are pretty good too. The space in Manchester will soon be used for classes and exhibitions, as well as hosting artist meet-ups and start-up businesses.
If this all sounds a little too hipster for you, then console yourself with this thought: there should be plenty of tables free from laptop-toting arty types at your favourite coffee haunt if there’s a Ziferblat around the corner.