Want to measure how attractive a city is to tech companies? Try the "flat white index"

SINGAPORE - Real estate services provider Savills has come up with a "flat white index" to measure how attractive cities are to technology companies.

The index ranked cities by the availability, quality and popularity of cafés, as well as the cost of a flat white, a type of coffee consisting of microfoam poured over a single or double shot of espresso.

The flat white index was just one of several criteria used by Savills in a survey which saw Singapore emerge in overall seventh place out of 12 cities ranked for their attractiveness to tech companies. In first place was Austin, Texas. The criteria included the business and tech environment, talent pool and real estate costs.

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For cafe culture alone, Singapore came in fourth - after Berlin, Dublin and New York but before London and San Francisco.

The authors of the report noted that this index was a "not altogether tongue-in-cheek" measure of the health of each tech city.

Café culture "epitomises what a tech city is", said Savills, noting that "the ability to get a decent flat white in an environment with free WiFi" is a "good barometer of a city's functioning as a tech hub".

They also pointed out that cafés offer not only a free place to work but "a place for meetings, chance encounters and networking". This was important as "who is in your street and how you meet them" can make or break a tech city, said Savills.

They also chose flat whites as they are "the style of coffee considered the essential beverage by many a young, hip urbanista" and have become "an essential lifestyle choice for any self-respecting would-be tech entrepreneur".

Singapore has the fifth cheapest flat whites among the 12 cities surveyed, costing an average of US$3.72, behind Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Dublin.

But it's not just the price of your cuppa. The flat white index also looks at the quality, availability and popularity of Western-style cafes in the cities surveyed.

Thus Mumbai and Seoul were at the bottom of the "flat white index", at eleventh and twelfth place respectively. Savills said chai in Mumbai and bubble tea in Seoul were still the beverage of choice, but predicted that a "growing flat white culture" would be a sign of the entrenchment there of the global tech industry.

The survey also identified Berlin and Dublin as doing especially well in café culture.

It singled out the Kreuzberg area of Berlin as the city's "epicentre of kaffeekultur, fashion and subculture" as well as "one of its centres of tech". Dublin's "thriving café scene" marked it out as "punching well above its weight".