Coffee wars are serious business the world over, as chains and independent coffeehouses vie for control over your pricey java addiction.
In October 2013, a coffee storm blew into Tel Aviv, the city with the most cafés in Israel, and promised to create a coffee revolution that would slash prices for a single-serving cup of joe across the board.
Cofix, the take-out café that started the cheaper-coffee rebellion, is now welcoming new competition to the block. Cofix offers everything on its menu for five shekels (about $1.40). New kid on the (Tel Aviv) block Coffee Express says even that slashed price is too high and is offering a single-serving cappuccino for four shekels (about $1.15).
While other cafés decried the move by Cofix late last year, founder Avi Katz says the new competition is great for everyone. “I consider every time someone cuts the price of coffee as a personal achievement,” Katz recently told Ynet.
“At the moment we’re looking forward to a country-wide expansion of the chain. We will not be lowering prices but I send my blessings to anyone who does. We have 20 branches at the moment and by the end of the day 50,000 people will have spent five shekels on their coffee instead of NIS 15. And that’s a huge success. Anyone who can improve that is blessed to do so.”
According to its website, Cofix has 16 regular take-away branches peppered throughout the country, four Cofix Bars (where all alcohol costs just five shekels a drink), and seven other take-away coffee bars soon to open.
It took three days within Cofix’s debut in Tel Aviv for Aroma, the country’s largest coffee chain, to slash its cappuccino prices to eight shekels.
Coffee Express currently has two branches – one each in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. The plan is to open eight more within a year. Like Cofix, Coffee Express also has cheap foodstuffs on its menu.
Katz made clear from get-go that his chain is not in competition with sit-down cafés but that he does hope they will improve service and fare in order to justify the higher prices they’re charging. Owners of Coffee Express say they see Cofix as their direct competition.
There’s also a Jerusalem-based low-cost coffee chain competing in the coffee war market: Cofizz. This take-away establishment was recently started by two former employees of Cofix. They chose a similar name, designed their storefront to look like Cofix, and offer a five-shekel kosher food and drink menu including coffee, sandwiches, freshly squeezed juice, ice cream and muffins.
Cofizz has seven branches in Jerusalem, Rehovot and Petah Tikva already. The chain has plans to open six more storefronts in Tel Aviv, Modi’in, Bet Shemesh, Ashdod and Rishon LeZion, according to its website.
Meanwhile, a protest on Facebook against the price of a cup of coffee at Ben Gurion Airport provoked the Israel Airports Authority to install four automatic coffee machines in the Terminal 3 departures hall. Passengers will now be able to buy coffee from the machines at $1.80 a cup. Coffee at one of the airport cafes costs $2.90-$4.80.
And for the coffee drinker? A definite win for the java addicts among us.