Coffee and Conveniences

Customers of Lloyds’ Coffee House, which opened in 1648, didn’t go there for the coffee; they went to connect with other customers and to hear shipping news. Realising this, Lloyd’s subsequently ran an auction, published a newspaper and eventually hosted an insurance market. The rest, as they say, is history. Wind forward 350 years and whilst the players have changed, the principles remain the same. For many, Starbucks has become a second office; the rent for which is buying at least one coffee per hour. This also buys you access to the wifi and the customer toilet. However, following the backlash to the incident in their Philadelphia store, Starbucks has now made these ‘rent’ free. An alternative model is the Ziferblat café in Shoreditch. Here, you pay £2.40 per hour (similar to the price of a coffee) to use the internet, but in doing so you get the food and beverages for free. As the lines between payment for space, services and sustenance continue to blur, giving away things like toilet access needs to come with a quid pro quo. Footfall and reputation is not a bad start, but how does Starbucks now leverage that?