The Cafe

Alternative Ukrainian Cafes – Time, Not Consumption

In Odessa and in Kiev I had the pleasure of finding cafes built on a completely different model than is typical. Most cafes charge you for what you consume. It’s reasonable and what we’d expect.

It’s not the only way a cafe can operate though. In Odessa I found one such cafe. I walked in and the young staff member spoke English, a rarity in these parts. He explained that I could have anything I wanted after taking down my name and recording the time I entered on a white board.

I had two cappuccinos and some fruit while I was there. The interior was designed to look kind of like a living room. There were couches as well as desks and tables. As I was leaving, the furniture was being rearranged for a movie night event taking place there. As a digital nomad, these places are perfect for me. As much as I like traveling, sometimes I just want to sit down and write, work on upcoming projects, plan future travels, or Skype with my mom. In these places I can let loose and feel comfortable spending hours parked in front of my computer screen.

I visited two similar cafes in Kiev as well. One was near Leo Tolstoy square and had seven rooms, all with different themes and furniture. One was set up like a movie room, another with bean bags and small tables, another like a garden cafe, etc. It was nice.

Movie Room

Movie Room

Movie Room

Movie Room

Here, you get a card when you come in and when you leave they read the card to see how long you’ve been there. They had coffee machines throughout the cafe, and at the entrance you could get a real espresso or cappuccino/latte made by hand. There were snacks, bread, nutella, tea, etc.

This place was quite busy and I didn’t care much for it. It felt more like a business than a community, which leads me to the last cafe, my favorite one in Kiev.

In this final cafe, called Tsiferblat (means clock face in English) you receive an old clock at the entrance. Each clock has a name written on it, and it is that name that is recorded with the time you enter on a white board. There are electrical outlets everywhere, so every seat has electricity within reach. All three places I’ve described here had board games and cards. I forgot to mention that.

The Cafe

The Cafe

This cafe wasn’t too big, but the space was used nicely. It also had large tables, bean bags, and couches. It had many varieties of snacks, real cappuccinos and lates, tea, and the staff was incredibly friendly.

While I was there one time they had an English language club meeting. The staff knew I was a native English speaker so they invited me. I had a nice chat with the Ukrainians there and we all discussed our summers (mine happened to be two years and counting, but I just covered what I did June-August 2013 🙂

I was there on a Saturday and it was raining and cold outside (it was the end of August and the high temperature was only 12C/54F). Three different brides at three different times came in to take pictures inside the cafe since it has a hip design. As the brides took their pictures, photography students were setting up random scenes and photographing them and a painting class was in session as well. It made for a very cool scene.

Painting Class

Painting Class

Bride Photoshoot

Bride Photoshoot

I guess by now you must be wondering how much these places cost. In Odessa I paid 15 Hryvnias ($1.84) per hour. At the two places in Kiev I paid 30 Hryvnias for the first hour ($3.68) and 15 Hryvnia for each additional hour ($1.84). I think they both had an option to pay 99 Hryvnia ($12) for an all-day pass.

1 reply
  1. Tino Lio
    Tino Lio says:

    Hi Adam – I just found your posting and I find it interesting that Kiev and Odessa had this business model since 2014. Are you still there? Have you seen this model continue to grow since then? Iam curious to understand if this model actually worked over time. Thanks.

    Reply

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