The Dhaka Café Blitz
Cofi 11 and the Prospect of the Café industry in Bangladesh Coffee Shops have been springing up all over Dhaka at a pace eclipsed only by the rate at which corrupt politicians are arrested every day. This change of scenery has been a refreshing one and is greeted enthusiastically by the trendy upper-middle class youth of Dhaka. Coffee World, the first of such coffee franchise in Dhaka, has expanded from one shop to four all through out Dhaka City. Lounges are springing up all over Dhaka, selling expensive delicacies from Apricot Mochas to specially prepared Waffle Dishes. As competitive pressure builds up we are increasingly seeing real innovation and one such coffee shop has started offering new services as a means to stay ahead of the pack. It is a café in the heart of Gulshan 2nd circle called CoFi 11. Not only does CoFi 11 have everything you expect from a great café- slick avant-garde looks, a comfortable and hip environment where you can genuinely relax and escape from razzle-dazzle of life and great food but additionally it also has full Wi-Fi access and a few computers for free internet use! Now you gotta admit, that's kinda cool! A few days back I had managed to sit down with the owner, Sakhawat Husain, to chat about the place and the prospect of the café industry in Bangladesh.
RS: Hi , Thank you so much for giving me some time.
Husain: My pleasure
RS: When did Cofi 11 open?
Husain: We started operations from 11 Jan this year.
RS: What kind of crowd are you hoping to attract?
Husain: We attract a huge variety of crowd, which can be truly described as a mixture of youth, corporate, diplomatic and family. Every kind of people visits us for a variety of purposes. We also had a few business meeting conducted here.
RS: So you are really happy with the result that a Café isn't only a place for youth, but for everyone?
Husain: Most definitely
RS: What is the most unique feature about Cofi 11?
Husain: We are the first café in Dhaka to offer full free Wife Access and internet usage from the computers you see here. Infact we named the place from the “CO” of Coffee and “WI” of WiFi. And the 11 is of course because we started the shop from Jan 11.
RS: Ah interesting, I didn't notice that! A lot of café's have sprung throughout Dhaka and all of them have one feature in common- expensive coffee, some would say overly expensive. How would you justify the high price of coffee in CoFi 11, especially since you are serving in Bangladesh?
Husain: (chuckling) CoFi is expensive, no doubt about that. But I believe that quality comes with a price. Our coffee beans are imported from all over the world. We have Starbucks beans from USA, we have coffee beans from India and Brazil. The volume of coffee we import is too small to be imported via agents and that is why we have to actually travel to such places and buy the beans. We buy our meat through a Norwegian conglomerate here in Dhaka and our fries are directly bought from McCain the US company. Our food is prepared in the cleanest environment possible and we stress a lot on quality. Our machines, as you see over there, are directly bought from Starbucks. In fact if you think about it, a coffee in Starbucks would cost about 4-5 dollars or even more. We are using the same materials they are using and yet we charge less. Relatively speaking we are not that expensive.
RS: I see you have borrowed a lot of concepts from Starbucks. You also offer Starbucks frapuccino here.
Husain: definitely. In fact I actually went to Starbucks and trained there before buying the machines. It was part of the deal I made with them that is if they are going to sell me their machines, they will have to teach me how to use them most effectively. This kind of training is called Barista training. So a Barista is like a chef, except that he prepares Coffee
RS: There is so much in preparing a cup of coffee?
Husain: Definitely. The best espresso is brewed in the narrow corridor of 18-22 seconds and we tell the quality of the coffee by the Crème. The crème is the oil which is secreted by the beans as it is brewed. It is the thin brown layer between the froth and the coffee and based on its texture and quantity we can tell whether the coffee is just perfect or not.
RS: Wow… you really aspire to be like Starbucks. Do you see such a prospect in Bangladesh?
Husain: definitely we want to be the Starbucks of Bangladesh! I see great potential here in Bangladesh. I want to bring in Bangladesh the culture of drinking coffee but I also want to see what I can do with the prevalent tea drinking culture here. Infact I have made a new drink called, Iced Chai Frappe, a drink I am considering selling here soon. The prospect is really exciting!
RS: It certainly is! What do you plan to do in the future?
Husain: I of course want to expand CoFi 11. We plan to have three flag ship store and then we want to introduce a new concept in Bangladesh called, Coffeteria! This kind of store will be targeted more towards the mass market. We plan to have smaller booths, much like a Cafeteria, and sell a full lunch set for 50-60 Tk. The idea is to make a full lunch affordable to the maximum number of people.
RS: Awesome! Well thank you for your time and I wish you the best for your plans.
Light at the end of the tunnel
What's a man to do when all he has got is his underpants?
After reading the title you are probably thinking that it is a clever metaphor, used to depict the current situation of our country. After having lived in complete turmoil, mayhem and corruption for decades, finally we are seeing a ray of hope that will hopefully show us the way to prosperity and happiness. Well, if that's your assumption then you are wrong!
You see, I had this really weird dream just a few days ago. In the dream a man wearing nothing but his undergarments was stuck in a dark, smelly, serene and seemingly endless tunnel. And he was thinking to himself, “Hey! What am I doing wearing nothing but my undergarments and standing in a dark, smelly, serene and seemingly endless tunnel?”
The cool breeze, blowing from one side of the tunnel to the other, was literally making him shake in his boots (oh….I forgot to mention, he was also wearing boots. Yeah I know, dreams!). He tried to walk only to find his boots stuck in some kind of icky, sticky and gooey substance.
So unable to run, walk or even move he decided to wait and see what happens. And soon enough there came help, or at least that's what he thought it was. It was a fat Aussie with a half eaten pizza in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
“Hey Aussie dude, can you please call 911 and tell them that I am stuck?”
“Of course mate” replied the fat Aussie dude.
“But do you know the number for 911?”
Clearly aggravated, the guy said, “I am not sure, maybe it is 9-1-1”. So the fat guy attempted to dial the numbers, but every time he tried to press a button with his oversized thumb he ended up pressing three of them. After quite a few attempts he decided to give up and said, “Sorry mate, there must be something wrong with the phone's wiring”.
When all seemed lost, the half naked guy suddenly noticed a bright light at the end of the tunnel. His heart filled with renewed hopes, he kept waiting and thought this must be his savior as the light grew nearer and nearer. But unfortunately he was wrong again. Actually the light was the headlight of a speeding train and the guy was stuck on a train track.
That's when I woke up…good heavens. But I have really been puzzled ever since, why on earth would I have a dream like that? Scientists say dreams are a reflection of the thoughts of our subconscious mind. But don't try to tell me that I subconsciously think of a half naked guy standing inside a tunnel. Hence that theory is out of the window. So I tried to take the help of this book named “Khwabnama”. Probably one of the largest selling Bengali books in history, it basically interprets various dreams.
For example, if you see a treasure chest in your dream, you are bound to get some money (didn't see that one coming). Also, if you see a snake you are probably going to have some guests (makes sense, right?). But unfortunately, as hard as it might be to believe, there was nothing about seeing a half naked guy along with an Australian standing inside a tunnel.
However, after much thought I have come to a conclusion. The dream might actually have a deeper underlying subliminal message to it. Maybe it does depict the current situation of our country, where after decades of turmoil, mayhem and corruption we are finally seeing our last ray of hope. But let's just hope the light doesn't bring a train behind it.
By Sadman Alvi
Only in Dhaka
From what was a scenic and one of the few quixotic places of river side beauty, within one year, Bashundhara managed to make the place almost non-existent and into a vast desert land (with lots of bushes and mushes) of “plots for sale.” That's one more scenic area in Dhaka City off the list.
While RAB no longer ventures into this place to catch couples making love, the Bashundhara security has made the place quite the VIP restricted zone.
Visitors are few now days, and Bashundhara is expanding like crazy; they have deposited land alright and it seems they are determined to fill the entire river with barren land. “We will get flooded, but we will not keep any place for water,” that is probably their intention. Heck, they even have block M now, with houses just properly built in only blocks A to D! You can still get in though but we can’t tell you how. Previous baluchor goers might be utterly disappointed.
Raid at Moghbazar
Fish at Bijoyshoni Road
By Adnan M. S. Fakir
Fight the fear of trying something new
You have your school handball team tryouts coming up next Thursday. They're asking for fresh blood, and so everyone in your class has to go. Even though you've never played the game, you feel you're perfect for it and decide to go give it a try. You're excited about the whole prospect of actually being in a team and playing for your school (with people cheering and all!). But as the fateful day comes nearer, a large swarm of caterpillar in your stomach begins transforming into butterflies.
Suddenly you start feeling that maybe you're not good enough. Heck, you don't even know the game rules! By the time Thursday arrives, you feel sick and ultimately decide either to skip school, or to just hide in the school washroom all throughout the tryouts. To the person in the above situation, I have to say this: Dude! It was just a game tryout! What will it matter to any one that you did not turn up? Who cares? Even if you actually had the potential to be a star player, you chickened out!
A lot of people suffer from deep neurotic phases when asked to leave their comfort zone and try out something new. It does not requisitely have to be a school handball team tryout. It can be making an endeavour to get into a drama club which requires an audition, signing up for a fashion show or maybe even sending in your CV along with a sample write up to get a job in RS!
I know most of the times it is not easy to venture into an unknown territory. But you have to know (and so do I) that if you don't even give it a try, it is impossible to find out if you were meant for it or not. That unknown terrain will remain that way until you go and explore. Research has it that people who came out of their comfort zone and took a chance at something new, reported that they felt enormous about themselves even if they didn't manage to quite get “innit”.
Not being selected for something is way better than not even going for the selection (gulp...gotta go gear up for that debate team). That word called “courage” means failing and then having the guts to get up and have a go again.
So people, take a peek out of that carapace, sign up for that club you really want to join, and just have a blast!
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