For all its laid-back attitude, Tel Aviv can be a very pricey city. A decent cup of coffee can cost you more than US$4, while an iced coffee to soothe the sweltering summer heat will set you back over US$5. At least that’s how it used be, before Cofix entered the market, toppling prices and shaking the fundamentals of Israel’s food industry.
Founded in 2013 by Avi Katz, the café offered a radically simple model: a solid cup of joe for a single coin – ILS5 (roughly US$1.30). But it wasn’t just the coffee it was offering for super-cheap prices, it was the entire menu. Everything, from booze to bagels, health bars to prepackaged pastas and freshly squeezed carrot juice, could be bought with the Israeli equivalent of a dollar bill.
Riding on the coattails of cost-of-living protests, it barged into a market hungry for on-the-go, low-cost options. As franchises began sprouting up, it forced almost all of Israel’s coffee chains to slash their prices dramatically. Recently it has even expanded to supermarkets and shocked its fan base by upping prices across the board by a shekel, but that’s not all it has in store.
First Tel Aviv, then the world?
Israel’s coffee market is famously rough. Pricey chains like Starbucks that usually flourish in big cities withered in Israel, where a strong café culture can turn a big brand name into a big liability.
Now, after succeeding where others have failed – with over 150 stores and countless similarly styled but even cheaper spinoffs – Cofix hopes to export its no-frills kiosks to other urban hubs.
Said to be planning its UK launch as well, Cofix is currently taking Moscow by storm, bringing its game to one of Starbucks’ home courts and offering coffee for a mere US$0.80, while the standard cost for a cup is closer to US$4 or more.
The bargain chain reportedly hopes to have as many as 100 stores operating in Russia by the end of 2018 – and its CEO said last year he thinks the current economic conditions in the country make it ripe for Cofix to swell to well over 1,000 branches. If what happened in Israel is any indication, it seems the coffee is about to get a whole lot cheaper.