Weekend grub: Third Wave Coffee Co might be just what Islamabad's coffee lovers have been missing

Weekend grub: Third Wave Coffee Co might be just what Islamabad's coffee lovers have been missing

While the food leaves a little to be desired, this new joint in Islamabad serves coffee like no other cafe in town
Updated 12 May, 2017

From the highlands of Guatemala to the small coffee growing town of Yirgacheffe in Southern Ethiopia to the foothills of Pantano near Soa Paulo, Brazil, Noman Qureshi is bringing coffee beans from around the globe to roast in Islamabad at his newly opened bistro.

Also read: Sorry, folks. Starbucks is not coming to Pakistan

His café not only boasts beans from far-ranging places, but also the latest equipment in coffee-making. The idea is to appreciate coffee in all its forms and flavours.

It's why he dubbed his cafe Third Wave Coffee Co.

“There have been different movements of coffee consumption," explains Noman. "In the mid-eighteen century, coffee as a drink opened up for the general populace as before that it was considered a novelty to be enjoyed and afforded by the elite class only. Coffee researchers call that period the first wave, which continued till early nineteenth century."

The cafe's interior is also something to write home about
The cafe's interior is also something to write home about

"Then came the second wave in the 1960s when chains like Costa Coffee and Starbucks introduced coffee on a large commercial scale,” he added. "The third wave took coffee a notch higher by putting the production and marketing of the product on the back seat and emphasising the product's artisanal qualities like its place of origin, etc."

Noman has actually studied coffee-making in London, having earned a certification from London School of Coffee in Kingston, UK. After testing his coffee skills in UK and Dubai, Noman finally moved to Islamabad a year ago to make his dream of owning a coffee shop come true.

“I have spent 13 years making coffee and dealing with coffee enthusiasts and am now determined to change the coffee scene in Islamabad," he says.

Where to go

Third Wave Coffee Co. is located on Bhittai Road in Islamabad.

What to order

The menu at Third Wave is extensive, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner but it’s the array of coffees on offer that should what attract customers most.

Most coffeehouses serve espresso, cappuccino, latte and the like, but Third Wave will let you choose the mechanism of your coffee's making. V 60, AeroPress and Siphon are just some of the other options on the coffee menu.

The coffee shop's decor is quirky without being over the top
The coffee shop's decor is quirky without being over the top

“I have trained my staff for one month how to brew coffee with the utensils and equipments that I have brought with me but to be honest, most of the time I want to do it myself as I don’t want to take any chances”, shares the scrupulous barista.

Adding to the variety, of course, is the diversity of the coffee beans. The beans from Brazil carry a nutty flavor whereas Yirgacheffe beans from Southern Ethiopian town are distinctively floral- and fruit-toned. It makes the coffee more lemon-y and fruity, explains Noman.

Aroma, acidity. body, flavour and aftertaste are the standard criteria according to which a coffee is rated. My V 60 passed all with high marks. The coffee carried a sweet-toned acidity rather than overly dry flavour, giving the same punch of caffeine without a bitter aftertaste.

Being served coffee was equally fascinating
Being served coffee was equally fascinating

I also tried an ice latte, which arrived perfectly chilled in a mason jar. The transparent glass casing was excellent presentation as one could see the perfect amalgamation of caramel, vanilla and milk with crushed cubes of ice swimming around. The first sip was addictive and it was hard to put back the jar on the table.

For dinner, we ordered Thai papaya salad, grilled rack of lamb and a Mexican burger.

The salad was well presented; silky glass noodle-bed, well soaked in fish sauce, topped with shredded unripe papaya garnishing and well marinated shrimps.

It was moderately spiced with a tinge of lemon, which hit a perfect balance.

However, the rack of lamb was quite disappointing. The marinade seemed right as one could discern the flavors of mustard, brown sugar and garlic, so the kitchen must have gone wrong with its broiling.

From L-R: Thai papaya salad, rack of lamb
From L-R: Thai papaya salad, rack of lamb

The meat was hard on the crust and half-done from inside. The presentation, however, secured full marks.

The only thing Mexican about the Mexican Burger was the salsa on the platter. The bun was too big for the chicken patty, spices were lacking and the burger began to fall apart after the first bite.

Damage to the pocket

Coffee is priced between Rs250 to Rs550, salads Rs400 to Rs500 whereas a main course is heavier on the pocket. It can range from Rs899 to Rs1200 on an average, excluding the New Zealand ribeye steak, which is priced at Rs2799.


Falcon1 May 12, 2017 07:13pm
Next, someone will probably start a burger joint, claiming to be imported Kobe beef from Japan, and sell a quarter pounder for Rs. 1000. Pssst. Don't let your beef supplier know about it. He may up the double his price!
BBW May 12, 2017 07:33pm
These are US prices. What fraction of the population can afford the coffee, the salad, or the main courses?
Khwarizmi May 12, 2017 10:02pm
Looks like a great place to get your coffee. While the coffee prices seems OK for a cofffee lover, the food prices seems to be pretty high.
Khwarizmi May 12, 2017 10:03pm
@BBW It is in Islamabad. People in Islamabad are loaded with Panama money :)
Laeeq Ahmed May 12, 2017 11:28pm
Rs 2799 for a steak, OH MY GOD. You can get two lamb legs in this price, much tastier as well.
proteus May 13, 2017 02:33am
250 to 550 for coffee is rather affordable, equivalent to prices in the US. Looks a nice joint. Keep it up. Pakistan needs some good places like this.
JA-Australia May 13, 2017 05:10am
How big of an inferiority complex do you need to have to pay Rs.550 for a cup of coffee? Does the Rs.550 coffee come with a free dunce cap?
Dr. Tankra May 13, 2017 10:23am
The chai in the street in Toba Tek Singh, Lodhran, Khairpur, Mingora and Swabi is not far behind.
Mahmood May 13, 2017 01:52pm
For a moment I thought I read 'Rip_off steak'. For Rs 2799 or equivalent of $25 I get a much better steak in Europe and the US with fresh meat. Where one earns 10 times as much as Pakistan. This has to be frozen steak sitting in the freezer for months, Or they may say it is 'freshly-frozen'? Unless they have daily direct flights from New Zealand to Islamabad, to bring in fresh beef steaks every day? NOT!
Adonis May 13, 2017 02:04pm
@JA-Australia In Pakistan, for snobs who are willing and able to shell out couple thousand rupees to have a cup of coffee for some friends at these inflated prices, probably also expect a limo to pick them and drop them off at their place at these prices. You need a total package to feel 'special'.