I've been spending many of my recent weekend days working from cafes near my apartment in San Francisco. There's a new one called On the Corner on Divisidero about two blocks from where I live and it gives me a nice break from my small apartment to go down there to write email and work on Pownce stuff — plus their coffee is very drinkable.
However, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels guilty throwing down a couple of bucks for a coffee and then mooching wifi, power, and a comfy chair for a few hours. I try to get up every once in a while and grab a snack or a coffee refill. I hardly need the extra caffeine and I especially could handle eating fewer pastries, but I feel obliged to support the cafe.
In many ways, cafes serve a very similar purpose as co-working space. Many people come much more often than I do and stay longer, essentially using the cafe as temporary office. For co-working space, like the Queen Street Commons, people pay a decent sum for the convenience.
I'm curious if anyone out there has seen cafes experimenting with alternative payment schemes? I could imagine either a subscription scheme or something as simple as special tip jar clearly indicated as a 'thanks-for-the-wifi-comfy-chair-music-bathroom' donation. I know I'd be willing to pay — and my body would thank me for the reduced consumption of guilty pastries and extra cups of coffee.