Karachi has a lot of cafes, but how many are actually coffee shops?
Sure, we all have our go to places for good coffee but looking at the structure of cafes here, many are meant to be places we can go to just hang. We went on a hunt to find a place we can turn into a workstation and our hunt didn't yield ideal results, until we found Coffee Wagera.
Located on Badar Commercial, Coffee Wagera claims to be the first proper coffee shop in Karachi so we decided to head there to find out what makes it different from the plethora of cafes that already exist in the city.
Walking in we were pretty surprised at the minimalist approach of the store. Two or three tables on one side while a workstation-like bench on the other. Large posters decorate the walls, all about the love for coffee.
We were greeted by owner Mush Panjwani, who explained he has big plans for his cozy shop.
"I've done everything I can to make Coffee Wagera exactly the way I want it and I don't want it to be some ordinary cafe," Mush told us.
How is Coffee Wagera different from your average cafe?
Well, for starters it doesn't have its own kitchen. The cafe only stocks light food items like sandwiches, rolls, brownies and pound cake. Mush revealed that all food items offered at the cafe are from female entrepreneurs who have their own home food business.
According to Mush, "I got in touch with many places and stuck to the ones who were willing to commit to sending us the items fresh in the morning. It took time because I had to let them know that we'll be keeping very low rates."
So far Mush has Khushi in a box and Samiya's kitchen on board.
"Every other coffee place is a restaurant, but not Coffee Wagera. The only reason we have the food items we do is because if people will be sitting here for long they'll want snacks. A major goal for Coffee Wagera is to be work friendly, with good coffee."
And it is. Besides the workbench, every seat in Coffee Wagera has a power outlet and the cafe has three different WIFI connections.
"If you ever come to Coffee Wagera and there's no WIFI, we'll serve you coffee on the house," claims Mush. In Karachi, that is a bold challenge.
Speaking of coffee, while Mush's place may not be focused on food, it wants its coffee to be perfect. We tried a few of the caffeine goodies and were pretty impressed. Especially for the price. On average, everything at Coffee Wagera is under Rs 200.
The double espresso was strong and perfect for a long day of work while the iced mocha is a welcome addition for the summer.
But while Coffee Wagera makes its mark with great coffee and a work-friendly environment, what sets it aside is Mush's future plans for it.
"If you can make coffee, you can work at Coffee Wagera," says Mush.
What does that entail exactly? Well, not only is Mush vocal about gender equality, wanting an equal number of men and women at his coffee shop, he is also vocal about people from all walks of life being able to work at the coffee joint.
"I've put out an ad for trans people to apply, I know about their plight and I want them to work here. I spoke to a few who needed work already," revealed Mush.
"The surprising part was how afraid they were about being in the front line. They were afraid of customers reacting to them in a negative manner. It was very heartbreaking."
But gender isn't where Mush wants to stop the inclusivity at. He wants differently-abled folks to know they have a place at Coffee Wagera too. "Part of our profits already go to the Special Olympics. There are no limitations at our store. Like I said, you just need to be able to make coffee. And we provide training for that!"
Mush wants Coffee Wagera to be the first proper Pakistani coffee shop franchise. The plan is to get this outlet on track and then work on another one.
He said, "Coffee Wagera isn't just a coffee shop for me. It's a philosophy. I want my views and goals to be reflected in my store. And I hope I can make this a success."