The coffee and cookies are free at the Clockface Cafe, but the time you spend there will cost you, reports Corey Flintoff on National Public Radio (1/10/13). The concept belongs to 28-year-old Ivan Meetin of Moscow, “who got started in the business by experimenting with a cafe that ran solely on donations.” He sees Clockface Cafe — of which there are “seven in Russia and two in Ukraine” — as providing a way for people to communicate. “Sometimes I call it the social network in the real life,” says Ivan.
At one of two Clockface Cafes in Moscow, “Polina Poliakova leads you to a cabinet filled with alarm clocks … The clock doesn’t actually work — it just serves as a marker for your table and a reminder that you are now ‘on the clock’.” The rate card isn’t that pricey: “You pay two rubles a minute for the first hour — slightly less than $4 an hour — and then one ruble per minute for the time beyond that. Any time after five hours is free — so you can never spend more than about $12 per person.”
The decor is “homey,” and the coffee is of quality. “We have cappuccino, latte, espresso, Americano, and our coffee is not the cheap one,” says Meetin, noting that Clockface Cafe — or Tsiferblat, as it is known in Russian — roasts its own beans. The cafe also “provides space for classes and events, board games, books and newspapers — even art supplies … for the drawing club that meets on Tuesdays.” It’s been so successful it has spawned imitators offering “pop music and videogames,” which Ivan suggests is more about “killing time.” He is “thinking of opening his next Clockface in London.”