Last weekend in Manchester, when my friend suggested this cafe she knew that was just up the road, all I really heard was ‘There is cake’ and I was pretty much sold.  I didn’t realise I was entering a place that would blow my mind in the cutest and mellowest way possible.

It was in the Northern Quarter which from a superficial glance seems the most hipster/ creative part of Manchester.  The place where you go to experience over-priced coffee and up-cycled furniture (which personally I actually really like as an aesthetic choice).  When we walked up the steps and entered the room itself, you are greeted by an open plan space that looks like someone has bolted together six people’s living rooms, all blending together to create a collage of sofas and tables that really shouldn’t work together but somehow manage to look like they all fit.

The premise is simple.  Instead of paying for coffee, cake, and various other food and drink stuffs, which go towards the up-keep of the place, you pay for the time you spend there.  All the drinks and cakes are free, and these are good cakes people.  We’re talking Battenberg cake.  We’re talking Mini-Rolls.  We’re talking Victoria Sponge.  The rate is 7p per minute which works out at £4.20 an hour.  Also (when we went there) there was a four hour cap which meant that you could stay for four hours+ for £16.80 which is great if you want to hold a meeting or are just a student looking to do some long haul work and are sick of the library and your house.  That may sound like a lot of money in the abstract but thinking about it, you might spend £4.00 on a single coffee in a chain cafe and then have to do the “I have been sat here for twenty minutes after finishing my drink so now have to make the decision to either leave or buy another one” which is a horrible moment, and can mean you end up spending way more than you meant to on drinks you don’t really want.  My friend also mentioned that it was really good for homeless people as they can get something to eat and drink for only a small amount of spare change so not only is the cafe working as a business, it also helps out the local community.


There were also free board games which pleased me so much! I love a good board game as they are something to do with friends that offers something to talk about which can be jumped off into other conversations (also I am competitive.  Very Competitive).  On a side note, pubs with board games are also fantastic because board games+ drunk/tipsy people= amazing viewing for everyone.


I think the reason I love this idea is that it is based on fostering creativity, shown through a dedicated free-lance space on Fridays and a piano (although my friend who is at the Royal College of Music got increasingly annoyed at the man who would only play the same chord over, and over, and over again) and asking for generosity from its patrons not in a monetary way but in a respect for the space and the other people in it.  It makes you mindful of the time you are spending places and what you are doing with that time by assigning a monetary value to the concept rather than the material goods you could purchase there.

There was also a rocking chair which I found a lot of fun.  Simple things people. Simple things.

The cafe in action!


(All images from the Ziferblat website which can be found here: