Food & Drink

Pay as you go coffee, anyone? Manchester pay-by-the-hour café dream close to boil with crowdfunding initiative

A pay-as-you-go café that will charge caffeine junkies by the hour instead of by the cup is halfway towards brewing success with a crowdfunding initiative. 

Manchester co-operative Future Artists dreams of launching  Home of Honest Coffee, a ‘walk-in, clock-on’ space with desks, Wi-Fi, coffee and snacks all available for the princely sum of 5p per minute or £3 per hour.

Manchester artists have been quick to pick up and expand on the idea and the co-operative is now seeking £5,000 on Kickstarter and are halfway to that total with nine days left.

Home of Honest Coffee project manager Mark Ashmore said that Manchester would be at the heart of the café.

“How many coffee shops are owned by Mancunians and not a hedge fund?” he asked. “Manunians want to take back Manchester!”

Much has been made of the decline of high streets across the country, but coffee houses have neatly side-stepped the recession and remained a prominent feature among the pound emporiums and payday loan sharks that now dominate commercial centres.

Mark explained: “Cities are shrinking, look at Detroit! Manchester is actually getting smaller from a retail perspective.

“The Triangle shopping centre has completely closed down, Kingstreet is 60% empty and there are pockets of empty space.

“We need to re-imagine what these spaces can be. We have an idea and we want to try it out.”

The pay-as-you-go café concept originated in Russia, with the UK’s first opening earlier this year in London with Manchester artists quickly picking up and expanding the idea.

Future Artists deride the lacklustre ‘retail experience’ on offer, where automated voices accuse people of placing unidentified items in the bagging area.

They hold an almost-utopian vision of a positive experience on the high street, one that encourages creative interaction and not faceless monetary exchanges.

Mark explained exactly what their vision for the new coffee experience is and said: “We are creating a meeting place, a space where you can connect to the internet, and a space where you can enjoy and learn about Fairtrade coffee.”

Their idea is to open a space for the more creative among us and to provide a co-working environment with all the basic amenities of an office without dress-down Fridays and the 5 o’clock commute.

Their groundbreaking idea has come at just the same time as the culture of ‘work’ enters a new and entirely different phase.

Alongside the development of the internet, the Fordism model of work – where employees’ clock-in-clock-out structure see work and leisure time clearly divided – is slowly being replaced by a more casual, ‘flexi’ routine, especially in the creative sector.

Freelancers, being untethered from the traditional work construct, must actively search for the next project. This is a task in itself, part of their unending ‘work’ is continual self-promotion, curating social media profiles to develop ‘#personalbrands’.

When work and play become merged, people lose their ability to switch off and relax.

With a young workforce squeezed into house shares and working from laptops and kitchen tables, the answer to re-imposing boundaries between work and free time may lie in this coffee shop co-operative.
You can pledge your support and pre-order a coffee for £5 on Honest Coffee’s Kickstarter page.

Image courtesy of hunthon with thanks

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