An Entrepreneur’s Journey
Jahanzeb Paracha, Esquires Coffee
How did your journey with food begin?
Café culture, with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked goodies, has always fascinated me. One typical British wet and grey morning I was sitting with my cousin in Coffee Island’s specialty coffee shop in Covent Garden. We were bouncing ideas for the sort of F&B business to be invested in Pakistan. The obvious choice for us was a café that serves awesome coffee but has a difficult-to-copy USP. The quest for such a chain of coffee shops began that day. It took us six months to narrow down our search to organic and fairtrade brand Esquires Coffee, who was incidentally participating in a franchise exhibition taking place in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to meet one of the founding members of Esquires at the exhibition who immediately became interested in our proposal as soon as he heard the word Pakistan. The process of due diligence on us commenced, the master franchise agreement was negotiated, our meeting with the Esquires’ chairman who flew in from Auckland was organized in London, and we were finally awarded the master franchise for Pakistan after six months of a painstakingly long process. It took a further 3-4 months and a few quick trips to Pakistan to do the recce for a potential shop location. Once the location was finalized, I made the arrangements to move back to Pakistan. The construction commenced, a lot of hurdles and challenges were faced, but finally, the first café completed in March 2018 and we finally opened the doors to customers.
What was your reason for joining the food business?
I mainly consider it to be a coffee business. Cafes always fascinated me and according to research that we conducted in early 2017, there was a clear room for a major player to step in, as long as they have an excellent unique selling point.
Who do you look at as your inspiration in the global food industry?
Specialty coffee shops and bakeries located in the UK, Europe, and the USA. There are a number of them, but some of them to mention are Pret a Manger and Blue Bottle Coffee.
Share the most challenging experience in your journey so far
Keeping the cost in control whilst ensuring the taste is not compromised, due to an unprecedented decline in the value of Pak Rupee and an increase in the import duties, taxes and gas/electricity rates.
What has been your favorite story on this journey?
When you put your heart and soul into an idea and work tirelessly, the joy of seeing that idea come to fruition is one of the most favorite parts for me in this journey. The second most favorite is to brew the very first cup of coffee at Esquires myself.
What do you enjoy cooking the most?
I mainly enjoy experimenting with coffees. It is so much fun and the aroma of freshly ground coffee soothes my soul!
Name your favorite and least favorite food trends
Croissant sandwiches, plant-based food, and anything fusion has got to be my favorites. I’m now sick of Nutella, lotus, and tarragon!
What aspirations do you have for the future?
To build a millennial-loved third-wave coffee brand, respected for its organic and ethical coffee values, loved for its organic coffee and food made with artisan values and skill, enjoyed in a modern environment and down to earth vibe.