Published in DEEP.
It was during my visits to Mumbai that I was first exposed to the coffee culture at some wonderful coffeehouses like Barista, Café Coffee Day and Café Mocha. The ambiance was relaxing, non-intrusive and conducive to creativity.
It was there that I discovered that the coffee culture does not merely signify drinking coffee but actually represents a certain lifestyle. The coffee shop or café is a place for social and business interaction; for long conversations and brainstorming sessions; for peace and quiet with your own thoughts.
If one looks up the history of this café culture, it dates back to 16th century Turkey. But now the culture is visible in many countries around the world where caffeine is an important part of the life of morning commuters (often shown in Hollywood flicks based in New York City). It has been carefully and consciously developed by coffee makers and marketers.
Coffeehouses are also considered the abodes of artists and intellectuals. A few years ago, a writer confided that she became a writer only because she had seen so many people in London writing on their laptops while at Starbucks. I guess inspiration comes from the most unexpected sources.
Coming to Pakistan, the country is full of tea drinkers and thus devoid of a coffee culture. Slowly, we are moving towards it although there haven’t been many success stories of coffee bars (except a few like Indulge and Espresso). But several traditional restaurants and cafés are now offering different varieties on their menus: from mocha to cappuccino to latte and so much more. They also come up with unique names and designs or coffee art. Steamed milk is poured to generate a design or pattern on the surface like a rosetta or a heart shape.
With time, people are developing a taste for drinking coffee and also looking for places where they can unwind and work without disturbance, paving the way for a café culture. With wireless internet available at several such places, it is becoming trendy to sit there for long hours and work on one’s laptop. Students go and discuss group projects, professionals go for networking, friends for chit-chat and media people for interviews.
The coffee culture, like coffee itself, can be very diverse. There is much scope to further develop this caffeinated form of socializing locally. It will give a much-needed space to artists, writers, students, socialites, extroverts and even introverts, and of course to those who simply love coffee!