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Tick-tock, Klokke

My visit to the first anti-café in Mannheim

· events,entrepreneurs,coworking,new,Mannheim

The anti-café (also known as a "time club" or pay-per-minute café) is a Russian invention. Ivan Mitin, the inventor of this kind of cosy venue, initially opened a predecessor to the anti-cafés – one with "pay-what-you-want" policy – in Moscow in 2010. That café was rather charmingly named "The Treehouse". However, the "pay-what-you-want" model proved to be a bit too vague, so he eventually transformed to the "pay-for-time" model that defines the anti-café. Mitin’s new café was bigger than the previous one and customers paid 1 rubel for 1 minute (about €0.85 per hour). The idea of a place with the “pay-for-time” principle quickly became popular.

What can you do in an anti- café?

Anti-cafés offer free Wi-Fi, drinks, cakes, cookies or other snacks. They also offer musical instruments and table-top games. What do you do with any of that is up to you, of course. You can use it as coworking space or just meet friends, play games or even learn a language - anything is possible. After all, the anti-café is meant to be a creative space.

In Germany the concept of the anti-café is still relatively unknown. When I asked my friends, nobody knew, what it was. Although the first anti-café in Germany was opened in 2013 in Wiesbaden (at the time when anti-cafés were trendy in Moscow) it closed soon after. It may have been before its time, especially in a rather small city like Wiesbaden. Since then, anti-cafés have appeared in Cloppenburg and Essen, too. Just last year, two more opened in Germany: "be'kech" in Berlin and "Klokke" in Mannheim.

A couple of days ago I met a friend of mine at Klokke, where a nice member of staff explained to us how to track our time and told us what food and drinks they had. My friend and I sat at Klokke and chatted away a good 2 hours, each of us with a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The atmophere there was very home-like: a small tepee drew my attention, as did a piano, a guitar and an assortment of board games.

What I found good about it is that the cost is comparable with that of my usual visits to traditional cafés: to me there is no big difference whether I spend those 2 hours in a usual café or in anti-café. On Klokke’s website I read that many workshops, games and even English and Russian lessons are offered there. Among the visitors when I was there some appeared to be working on their laptops, which makes me think it might be a nice space for freelancers.

I definitely plan to explore this place with other friends, especially since hardly any of them know this wonderful café is just around the corner.

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