Not just black and white

March 18, 2015 admin

flat whiteHow do you like your coffee? Shaken but not stirred? What does your coffee say about you? What does your coffee say about the city you work in?

Everyone likes their coffee a certain way. Black, white and shades in between. Froth, no froth. Sugar, no sugar, “I’m sweet enough, already, thanks.”

The Economist famously has its Big Mac Index as a lighthearted guide to currency levels, using the differing comparative prices and purchasing power of a burger around the world. Now Savills has come up with a guide to the price in top world cities of the ubiquitous cup of coffee.

Berlin, Dublin and New York City are the top ranking cities for café culture, according to Savills. As part of the firm’s Tech Cities research program, Savills created an index to evaluate café culture by measuring the availability, quality and popularity of cafés with tech users along with the average cost of a flat white, which it says is “the coffee of choice for industry aficionados.” Well, not here. “Whatever it’s called, black with four sugars, please.”

(For those not in the know, a “flat white” is an espresso-and-steamed-milk beverage similar to a latte, with its origins in Australia and a growing global trendiness. For instance, Starbucks now offers flat whites.)

Savills’ view is that “this cultural phenomenon” has become a good barometer of a city’s tech hub credentials. Cafés offer free wi-fi, workspace, a place to hold meetings, and an opportunity to network and meet likeminded individuals. We’ve all done it.

Savills Flat White Index
(ranked by availability, quality, café visitors and cost, with flat white cost)

  1. Berlin, $3.36
  2. Dublin, $3.47
  3. New York City, $4.00
  4. Singapore, $3.72
  5. London, $4.04
  6. San Francisco, $3.75
  7. Tel Aviv, $3.00
  8. Hong Kong, $4.39
  9. Stockholm, $4.45
  10. Austin, $4.30
  11. Mumbai, $1.63
  12. Seoul, $5.54

Source: Savills World Research

Berlin’s Kreuzberg, the Zentrum of Kaffeekultur in the city, came top of the index, based on availability, quality, visitors and price. The average flat white in the German capital city costs $3.36, beaten only by Tel Aviv and Mumbai. With the euro approaching parity with the U.S. dollar, that’s €3.17. As always, the average price can be misleading — I certainly don’t pay that for a coffee anywhere in Europe. I won’t pay that. Train travelers in Germany know you can get a perfectly good cup of coffee in Yorma’s, the station food-to-go outlet, for €1.10 (it was €1, but that’s inflation for you in the deflation-hit euro zone). Not necessarily a networking and meeting venue of choice, but hey!

“A growing ‘flat white culture’ is an indication of the tech industry taking hold of a local economy,” says Yolande Barnes, director of Savills World Research. “Café culture is a good sign of human capital and suggests a vibrant and creative environment, attracting a young and talented population — the key to making a tech city.” Barnes suggests that conventional metrics no longer apply when attracting new enterprises: “People will instead be looking for the life of the city itself, its streets, its shops, its markets, its culture and cool hangouts rather than high-spec floorspace.”

Give me a black any day.

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RichardFlemingRichard Fleming is editor of The Institutional Real Estate Letter – Europe.

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