Transformation of Café Culture in Kabul, Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s culture, hot tea had enjoyed a superior significance for decades; in a tea-drinking culture it was really hard to find a decent cup of coffee. Anything stronger than coffee is illegal and coffee was only available in few unmarked cafes hidden behind gigantic gates and thick walls.

Now coffee and cupcakes are also grabbing attention of the customers. Mr. Muhammad Hussain Gulzara, a 23 years old entrepreneur realised this transformation. He saw that major of the Kabul’s café are always crowded and have limited items on their menu. That’s why he opened a two story Cupcake Coffee shop right in the heart of Kabul.

As the coffee shop is well organised with open coffee bar and wood panelled walls along with wide range of cakes, doughnuts, cookies and specially a variety of coffee the shop had never witnessed the shortage of customers.

As a co-owner and manager, Hussain said that Kabul is evolving. Places like this not only provide opportunities to meet your friends but it also help in building your network by meeting new likeminded people. Afghanistan had witnessed conflicts for decades but now is the time to change and rebuild. He added that cupcakes are not a common thing in Kabul but it is drawing too much customer’s attention and that’s why they are planning to a new branch this year.

Hussain was not the only one who noticed this change; the growing population of young people had arose the need of new stylish restaurants and cafes in this region and the demand of luxury product and services is also increasing. This ultimately led to the transformation of whole restaurant industry in Afghanistan.

Across the city in western Kabul, there is Slice Bakery and Café another coffee shop filled with customers. Its décor has a blend of traditional Afghan design and contemporary western design.  Some like its decoration but its menu also has a mixture of Afghan teas and fusion drinks like Saffron Latte along with cupcakes, cookies and other flavours of coffees.  Apart from this the shop also provides its customers an opportunity to play board games like chess.

Both Slice and Cupcake Coffee shop have open floor plans which means both men and women can sit together and have no family hall for segregation. Upon asking both of the owners mentioned that their whole café is a family hall. They added that it’s a safe space where our each customer regardless of their gender in respectful Afghanistan. Our customers visit us for a nice relaxing time and not to disrupt or harass anybody.

The young generation is aroused by these cafes as per them these places attract vivacious people; these people represent the civil society and are here for enhancing their social network.  After a tough day at work or just to ditch their daily routines, these young people visit these places to relax and spend time with their friends.

Some of these cafes also provide the board game that’s why we see a lot of families visiting these places as well; parents play board games with their kids for fun and have a good family time.

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