VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #281 | It Had One Or Two Pay-To-Play Coffee Hangouts

December 19, 2016.

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The point of VWBCI is to open local minds to outside practices, concepts, and ideas that might stand to improve our greater civic situation in a parallel universe where coolness was valued more than practicality and funds spent on public works of art were raised by way of a special NIMBY tax levied against serial complainers.

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You know that guy at your favourite coffee shop who sits in one of the prized booths all by himself with a laptop for two hours drinking a single cup of coffee? Fuck that guy, right? Unless you’re that guy, of course. In which case, we get it. We’re that guy, too. People have stuff to do, and the world isn’t all croissants and conversation. Still, we don’t think anyone in the cafe game could have ever imagined that their scene would get so irretrievably Macked — that free wifi would become more important to the customer than the provenance of the bean. Considering, then, the lunacy of the modern cafe business model, it’s no surprise that many are trying to innovate/navigate a better route forward. Take, for example, the case of Brooklyn’s Glasshour (via Grub Street):

Realizing that letting people buy one coffee while using your electricity for hours isn’t the best way to make money, a new café in Brooklyn has introduced a pay-to-play model. Instead of billing customers for individual coffees, Williamsburg’s Glasshour, which is marketed as an “anti-café,” charges a fixed rate of $6 dollars for the first hour you’re there, plus 10 cents for every minute after until a customer hits four hours. At that point, the customers won’t be charged any more than $24. That’s more than the price of two lattés, of course, but customers can spend their time drinking as much coffee as they like, eating all the granola bars they can handle, and — perhaps most important — using Wi-Fi without any additional charges.

What we like about this model is that both cafe management and customers are set in subterfuge-free positions. There isn’t this falseness to the commercial exchange, wherein “I’ll have a cappuccino for here, please” really means “I’m going to use your place as my office for a couple of hours and pay you $4.” Both parties are being honest with each other for once. And the all-in costs aren’t terrible, even with the exchange rate being what it is (CAD = $8 for the first hour and $32, all-in). But we wonder if Vancouverites would ever go for it…

Would you support a similar pay-to-play cafe model in Vancouver?

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Photo via Glasshour.

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