Ziferblat is the new café in the Northern Quarter that’s not really a café. Rather than pay for the food and drink, you pay for the time you spend in the place.
A great import from Russia, where the name literally means ‘clockface’, Ziferblat introduced its new café concept to London a year ago and has now joined us in Manchester, opening just last week on Edge Street.
Arriving on a freezing midweek afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. On my checklist was warmth, Wi-Fi and food – and quite frankly, it ticked all the boxes.
Taking up a whole floor of an old office block, the space is open plan and decorated in sections: you can choose comfy armchairs and sofas, or formal tables to suit your needs. One wall is papered to look like a library, another area is set out like a suburban sitting room, another a loft-style office.
Free Wi-Fi means Ziferblat is popular with laptop-toters, but thanks to its informal and welcoming atmosphere, it seems to draw a mixed crowd: an elderly couple were taking a break from shopping next to me while a young family were enjoying some board games on the next table.
You clock in on arrival and clock out on departure, paying for your time as you leave. The charge of 5 pence per minute includes all the food and drink you can consume from the communal kitchen, as long as you clean up after yourself.
I enjoyed two slices of cake and a great cup of tea. But the selection included cereals for breakfast workers (even Coco Pops!), as well as savoury offerings for lunch. Working for just over an hour meant my visit cost me £3.00 – excellent value for money.
There are now 14 Ziferblats all over Europe, so the concept is proving very popular. Depending on the time of day you arrive, you might find it a little crowded in the kitchen, but in my opinion this just adds to the sociable atmosphere.
It’s a great addition to the area, offering something a little different – and I’ll certainly be going back for a brew or two. Perhaps even some Coco Pops next time.