Tick, tick, tick. The saying “time is money” is particularly true when visiting a new species of Internet cafe opening in cities from Singapore to London. Known as “pay-as-you-go” or sometimes “anti-cafes,” they offer free Wi-Fi, unlimited beverages and snacks, work tables, and comfy chairs. The catch? You are charged for the time you spend inside. The cost changes in each country, from 5 pence a minute (about eight cents) to four Euro an hour to full day or monthly rates. What remains the same is the concept that everything is free — except your time.
On a recent visit to Paris, the anti-café on Rue de Richelieu, steps from the Louvre, was humming with quiet concentration (pictured above and right). Patrons helped themselves to drinks — espresso, cappuccino, café moka, chocolat chaud, herbal and black teas, and more — nibbled at pastry and fruit, and even made toast for themselves (spread with honey or Nutella!) before settling down to work on laptops and tablets. The café also offered access to a printer, scanner, and board games. The experience felt more like hanging out at home with friends than going to a traditional coffee shop. Except, of course, for the part when you pay.
The pay-as-you-go concept doesn’t seem to have made the leap to the United States or Canada — yet. Until then, international travelers can find it at these locations:
PARIS AntiCafé Louvre, 10 rue de Richelieu; AntiCafé Beaubourg, 79 rue Quincampoix; anticafe.eu/en
ROME AntiCafe Rome, Via Veio 4b, anticafe.eu/en
LONDON Ziferblat, 388 Old St., Shoreditch, london.ziferblat.net
MOSCOW Ziferblat, 12c1 Tverskaya St, pushkin.ziferblat.net/en/
SINGAPORE Coffeemin, 6 Eu Tong Sen St., Clarke Quay Central, #02-33; 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall, #03-377, coffeemin.sg/
ZAGRAB, Croatia Lutajuci Sat (A Wandering Hour), Ljubljanica Street 4, www.likecroatia.com/news-tip/cafe-zagreb-charges-minutes-drinks/