Coffee Culture in Pakistan

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Do people want more options?

It’s not news how the culture of Pakistan has been prone to westernization over the past couple of decades. Information spreads like wildfire, and apparently so does culture in today’s world.

But in a globalized world of today, all we need to worry about are keeping our morals and ethics in check. As for the rest, I’d say ‘let the coffee pour!’

Some like tea, some like coffee. For both, it serves the same purpose. A wake up drink for some, and a casual conversation holder for others, coffee has taken Pakistan by a storm. Before being introduced as a luxury item by ‘Gloria Jeans’, coffee used to be the go to drink when you visited Murree Mall Road. Those hot steel pipes brewing and bringing out the essence of coffee in that mix, topped with some Ovaltine chocolate powder, the Murree Mall Road coffee experience was something for everyone. To couples holding hands, to families roaming around, and oldies taking a slow stroll as they sipped away on their coffee.

Recently a trend became viral, calling out the very coffee that we’ve seen all our lives, as ‘Dalgona Coffee’. Just a fancy name for ‘Phenti hwi Coffee’. Regardless of how people threw that fancy term around, ‘phenti hwi coffee’ has been our go to coffee for late winter nights and evening rains.

As time went by, and Pakistanis started experimenting with their own versions of Dalgona to black coffee, numerous brands ushered in. Gloria being the pioneer, quickly followed suit by Second Cup, Coffee Planet and Coffee Bean and Tea leaf. Each bringing their own distinct taste to your coffee cup, each one chanting the same ‘let the coffee pour!’.

Every company came in with their own mission. Coffee Planet bringing an Arabica version of coffee, Gloria Sources its own beans and produces their own blends and Second Cup went on from selling just coffee beans to now promising sustainability. Every company (there are several more though) bringing us a variety of coffees.

One thing remained constant; the types of coffee they offer. To the plain sight, its cold and hot, further divided into different types which are categorized by the strength of coffee to milk ratio. As it is though, all of these are starting to become simple. It seems the Pakistani people want more options to their coffee. Simple, is just not cool enough.

Walks in, the coffee maker. People who could afford it, started buying their hundred thousand rupee(and more) coffee brewers at home. Making asmr videos of how such fresh coffee is available at the comfort of their very homes. They come with pods of different flavors which one can have according to their mood. Variety of hot and cold and flavors, is now available in your home. What more could you want, right?

Well wrong. As much as this is appealing, you’ll never be able to replace coffee as a social drink. ‘Let’s grab a cup of joe’, is what you say to each other when you’re in a mood to not only enjoy the drink, but the social gathering coupled with the ambiance that brand gives you. We’re getting our pet flavors, we’re getting our atmosphere and the social gatherings which come along with it, but there’s still something missing, isn’t it?

Coffee regulars would agree. One thing missing in Pakistan are chains like Starbucks which let you make your own unique blend of coffee that goes according to your pallet. You might be happy with a caramel latte at your regular coffee house, but it’s a whole other thing to make a unique blend which you can call your own. That’s supposed to be your actual, ‘regular’, because its yours. 

Until we see a chain like this emerge in our country, we’ll pass time with our Dalgona Coffees and our Brewed Caramel Lattes. But every coffee lover is waiting anxiously, to get a chance to make their coffee, then own unique drink.

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Shaafay Zia
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