Imagine going to a cool coffee house, ordering a café latte, hanging out for an hour and paying… well, Rs 5, or Rs 50 or Rs 500… or whatever you want to. The ‘pay what you want’ concept, which originated in the US in 2003, has come to Delhi.That, for instance, is the principal attraction at the newly opened Kunzum travel café in Hauz Khas Village.
For a cup of well-brewed coffee, this reporter paid a paltry Rs 5.
“Come to the café, bum around, and order coffee only if you wish to. And when you do, pay what you like,” says Ajay Jain, the owner.
Has it ever had visitors who haven’t paid anything at all?
“Yes,” answers Jain.
A Delhi-based rock band, Kaash, is also trying out this novel idea. It distributes its music independently through websites, or through orders on email and their website, where listeners can offer an amount as small or big as they like
“Our new album has received around 100 requests. The highest amount paid has been Rs 500, and the lowest, nothing at all,” says Shivam Khare, one of the co-founders.
Isn’t it risky?
“It’s just a way of asking people to evaluate our music, and pay only what they feel it’s worth.”
But it is the high risk of losses that is limiting set-ups with such a system. Kunzum serves only tea, coffee and cookies.
“If we offer food, costs, wastage and overheads will shoot up,” explains Jain. Which is why others aren’t following suit. “A concept like this may work well in a very high premium environment,” says Santhosh Unni, CEO, Costa Coffee.
“But it doesn’t make any sense for us.”