Pay-as-you-sit 按逗留時間付款的咖啡店

A cup of coffee
Image caption Do you take time to savour your coffee?

Vocabulary: time 詞匯: 時間

What's the allure of coffee shops? It's been said that JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books sitting in one in Edinburgh.

Many people spend hours in these places nursing a coffee as they work away on their laptops. But if you're spending all day buying one expensive coffee after another and haven't sold your first novel yet, the costs can really add up.

For those who work outside of a traditional office or just want to take time out, there's a new alternative in London: a pay-per-minute café.

You can linger for as long as you like in the Ziferblat coffee shop. You'll be given a clock when you come in to keep time. When you leave, you return the item and pay the bill.

The cost of hanging out, eating, working and meeting new people in the place is 3p per minute - or £1.80 an hour. The shop's owner, Ivan Meetin, says: "Everything is free, except the time you spend there".

Customers help themselves to coffee and cookies. They can also bring their own food to eat on the premises while accessing the internet through wi-fi.

Meetin's customers clearly are not the types who rush to work with a paper cup to drink from at their desks. They are there for the ambience. The new coffee shop's atmosphere is relaxed and a bit bohemian. Informality is at the heart of Meetin's concept. He's always loved the idea of building his own house. "With my mates, we were building treehouses where rules of society didn't exist," he says.

Meetin believes his coffee shop is a bit like "social media", but with a face. Like-minded people go there to socialise. Some feel so much at home that they wash the dishes.

The concept of coffee shops, where you pay for the time and not for the cup, has proved popular in Russia. Ziferblat is part of a Russian chain. Only time will tell if the British will warm to the idea.

I'd like to try it at least once. Who knows - I might even start writing my own novel. If coffee shops are good enough for JK Rowling to spend quality time in, why can't I?