Of Coffee Houses and Differentiation..

Since the last two years, authors at Karachi Meroblog have sporadically announced a number of coffee shop openings in the city. Most of these coffee shops are concentrated in Zamzama, but some like Roasters and Kahva are expanding into areas like Tariq Road too.

At the pace the gourmet coffee houses are springing up, one is forced to wonder what market the premium priced coffee providers are catering to, and if the market isn’t already saturated. A quick survey around Zamzama, however, brings a unique insight into the coffee house industry in Karachi.

Each coffee shop in Zamzama has created a niche for itself, and that is what has determined their success and differentiated one coffee shop from the other.

Costa Coffee, for example, has the most expensive coffee, and the most professional ambiance. Instead of the couches in other coffee shops, Costa has comfortable chairs. More foreigners and professionals can be seen lounging inside, instead of the usual teenager crowd.

Cafe U & Me attracts all the teenagers and students. Most can be seen there in the morning, most probably bunking school. This coffee shop, however, is designed to serve to all sorts of customers. The ground floor, with tables and chairs, is for people who just come in to get a cup of coffee and are then on their way. The floor above, which is well lighted and less noisy, is preferred by the young corporate clientèle. Go up another floor and the place transforms into a dimly lit, sheesha-smoke filled room right ou of Arabian nights. The floor is called the New Sheesha.

Ciao, on the same street as Costa, was completely vacant when I visited, but the Shift Manager insisted that the place was visited by intellectuals and politicians families. A welcome addition was a library in a corner that gave the place a more sophisticated look.

Cafe Coffee Day, due to its low prices, is the most frequented coffee shop in the area. Students, socialites, young professionals keep the servers on their feet all day.

Roasters, has managed to carve out its niche as a truly high end coffee shop. They’re attracting far more business by adding full course lunch and dinner to the menu unlike other coffee shops that serve only desserts and sandwiches.

Espresso are known to be the best coffee makes of them all.

The most recent addition in this long list is Bread People. The franchise at Zamzama does not serve coffee, but the one at Khayaban-e-Shehbaz does. On entering, one is introduced to the most heavenly olfactory pleasures of one’s life.

In light of all this information, one wonders if chains like Starbucks or Gloria Jeans’ Coffee were to come to Karachi, how they would position themselves and if they too would choose to locate at Zamzama. Any suggstions?

5 Comments so far

  1. voice on April 22nd, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

    although this is not relevant to this post but can any one tell me that where is Dolmen Plaza or Dolmen Building located near sea view clifton where the offices of Si3 and Bank Al Bakra are located , its some where around sea view but I do not excatly know it

  2. بستنی (wasiq) on April 23rd, 2008 @ 3:44 am

    only a dozen coffee shops cafes in a out of way locality of the mega polis like karachi says it all….we dont have a coffee culture….anyways its nice to know there are places few good ones just in case…..!

    Btw, is it true that the next oil/petrol increase will be about Rs26/lit since the oil has gone up to $120 in world market….pakistan cannot afford the oil import should be banned…..save pakistan sell your cars….buy horses and donkeys…..!

  3. Raheel Lakhani (raheel07) on April 23rd, 2008 @ 9:44 am

    Still there is no place like T2F!

  4. spark on April 23rd, 2008 @ 10:19 am


    //We don’t have a coffee culture…//

    During the 60s and the 70s the coffee houses of Karachi served as the intellectual hubs hosting the best Pakistani writers and poets…..

    with places like T2F serving as the activity hubs and hosting as diverse activities and roasters, basement, cafe ciao attracting people from all walks of life… I think we have a ‘coffee sub-culture’ in the making :)

  5. faylasuf on April 26th, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

    lets talk bout dudh pati culture ;)

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