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Name your price (seriously!): this LA cafe lets you decide the price of your cup of Joe

interior of cafe

Customers that walk into Metro Cafe in the heart of Santa Monica, California pay what they can afford for their cup of coffee, whether it’s $1 or $100!

 At first glance, it looks like most cafes in LA –– they’ve got their cool and friendly baristas, free WiFi, and a great selection of pastries and coffees that come in any which way you like. But take a look at the menu, and you’ll be surprised to find that there are no prices. No, they’re not trying to hide them from you –– the price is up to you! 

With Santa Monica being one of the most expensive areas in California, it’s quite impressive that Metro Cafe has been able to maintain such success.

“Every once in a while I pay just $2 for my latte,” said Ron Kurti, a regular customer. “It’s an endorphin rush getting coffee so cheap. I’ve also given $20. It depends.”

The cafe has been around for almost three years now and decided to abandon prices in October of 2017 as a 30-day experiment to see if customers would pay more than normal, compensating for homeless customers who paid less.

donation based coffee
The owner, pastor Steve Snook, said that business has continued booming despite switching over to this new business model. “After the 30 days, we’d matched what we had done before. So we continued, and revenue has remained stable – about $12,500 per month.According to the staff, first-time customers often ask what the prices used to be. Around half of them pay that price while a quarter of them pay more than that; the rest pay less.
metro cafe owner
Even though I’m a local, I had never heard of Metro Cafe before, so I decided to visit and see what it was all about.  The interior was simple, while also bright and spacious. I went up to order an iced oat milk latte (YES, they have oat milk, people!) from a barista who greeted me with a smile. We talked a bit about our days and I asked her a bit more about the cafe. She told me about her experience working there and their unique concept.“People are definitely surprised at first when they come in and we tell them they can choose the price,” she said. I think it’s a really cool concept and it’s attracted a lot of people since we made the switch, especially given the crazy at cafes like ours around LA!”I thanked her, paid for my latte, and sat on one of the comfy turquoise chairs in their seating area. There are plenty of outlets in the room, speedy WiFi, along with small and large tables that are great for studying or working on group projects. Oh yeah, did I mention I was really pleased with my latte too? Seriously, it was perfection. 
iced and hot lattes
Some say you can sometimes snag freebies during your visit, like a slice of banana bread, if your barista is feelin’ extra nice. Sign me up! There is a patio area as well, so feel free to bring your furry friend to enjoy your morning brew with you. Be sure to also check out their calendar of live music and events. Metro Cafe also holds church on Sundays and all are invited to partake.So if you’re on the hunt for a new go-to coffee stop on your way to work, be sure to give Metro Cafe a try. You won’t be disappointed!
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