Tourism Tip #369 How Much Should You Pay for Coffee in Tel Aviv?

That depends on your energy level, your lactose tolerance and your banker.

Let's face it: you can't get coffee for a nickel anymore, anywhere. Inflation and the commodities market have made sure of that. But what is a reasonable price for a cup of joe in Tel Aviv?

That's become quite the question of the day since the advent of Cofix, which caused consternation among Israel's café owners with its launch of the NIS 5 cup of coffee. And, by the way, everything else – Cofix charges the same fixed price (equivalent to $1.42 at today's exchange rate) for everything it sells.

Until Cofix appeared, to the unbridled delight of Tel Avivis, a cup of coffee at a café ran anywhere from NIS 8 (for simple "mud" coffee) to NIS 16 (for a frothy cappuccino with orange zest sprinkled on top, a squirt of chocolate syrup lacing the glass mug, or other fancy additions).

Israel's restaurants promptly assailed Cofix, saying its offerings at that price must be dreck, or predicting its rather rapid demise. Some have scaled back price, if not to NIS 5; others are standing firm, banking on Tel Avivis being be too lazy or just too apathetic to track down the nearest Cofix outlet – or wait in the long lines forming outside the chain's two branches.

Without going into the quality of the very-new and fast-growing chain's offerings, the fact is that Cofix set the bar much lower than it had been.

So, how much should you pay for a cup of coffee in Tel Aviv?

Answer: As much as you're willing to. If the cafe is charging more than NIS 16 per cup, it had better be civet coffee.

If you're jonesing for caffeine you could try to hold out and find the nearest Cofix, and they are not everywhere by any means. Or, you could accept the price at the nearest café, be it what it may be.

There is absolutely no point in glaring at the waiter and demanding a better price, though. Cafes aren't the flea market and they don't haggle. Now it's up to you and your banker. By the way, if you ask for soy milk instead of regular milk, it will cost extra. There is no such thing as a free refill in Israel. And tips for waiters in Israel start at 10%.