Subscribe to Your Local Coffee Shop

There’s an easy way to (literally) repay coffee shops that let us hang out for hours.

In today’s economy, the hourly rate of $7 for a latte split over a two-and-a-half-hour stay is relatively affordable, but for many local, independent coffee shops, it’s too expensive. Tim Taylor, coffee consultant and owner of three artisan shops in Chicago, believes that to be in a healthy and profitable place financially, they need to do approximately $20 per seat, per day. Taylor’s largest location, Pedestrian Coffee Belmont, is 10 feet away from an elevated rail stop that clocks over 2 million annual entries, one of the busiest in the city. His coffee is better than the alternative nearby (a Dunkin’ kiosk). Coupled with the fact that the shop has solid Wi-Fi, good outlet access, and even better coffee, this has made Pedestrian a 50-seat haven for remote workers, who often park on a stool or take a two-top and just hang out.

The issue posed by those “campers” has been a “recurring topic of discussion” among coffee shop owners Taylor bumps into. After another Pedestrian location had to trim hours despite being in a hip neighborhood with plenty of young professionals and latte-sipping millennials, Taylor had an idea: a membership plan. For $20, a patron could reserve a seat for, say, four hours, and they would likely include a drink and a pastry with that reservation.

Balking at yet another subscription in 2024 is sensible, but without new schemes, the camper conundrum won’t be going away on its own. More Americans than ever are drinking coffee, and prepared coffee—grabbing a latte or cold brew from a local coffee shop—is gaining popularity among those who reported drinking coffee in the last day.

Coffee shops have always been good for productivity, and after the pandemic, even the libertarians at the Cato Institute agree that remote work is here to stay. Meanwhile, the number of places those remote workers can work besides their home is shrinking. La Colombe, a Philadelphia-based chain with a national footprint, has long taken a more confrontational approach, offering Wi-Fi at certain shops on weekdays. Starbucks’ approach is even simpler: just shrink the store! As part of its 2023 “Triple Shot Reinvention With Two Pumps” plan, the company will focus on “purpose-defined” spots, aka pickup, drive-thru only, double-sided drive-thru, and delivery only.

Back at the local level, shops like Devoción in New York are trying third-party options that print a time-limited Wi-Fi access code on your receipt. If the options are a coffee shop with no seating, questionable Wi-Fi, or a slightly pricier guarantee of a seat and a treat, would more regulars be willing to cough up for a coffee shop subscription?

Read More @ Slate

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