The first Mocca outlet opened in Islamabad – I remember visiting in 2010 but have little recollection of the night since it was a friends getaway from Lahore a week before our A Level exams – not smart, I know.

A decade later, Mocca Coffee boasts two branches in Islamabad, three in Lahore and two in Karachi with almost a cult like clientele that just keeps coming back.

Why is Mocca a hub for millennials if it isn’t the food that’s attracting them?

Mocca’s clientele ranges from teenagers, millennials to elder millennials, with twenty year olds dressed to the nines in athleisure being the dominant demographic.

The cafe offers a host of menu options from appetisers, desserts to a lengthy breakfast menu-but one thing is true for all items on the menu-they just don’t taste great. And great is what you expect for the price it costs you. For the price of one macaroon, you can easily have a full bowl of salad, or even a small meal from a fast food joint-and it will probably taste better.

Source: Mocca Coffee/Facebook

Here’s what you need to understand: Mocca’s appeal is about more than food. By making careful marketing decisions the brand aligned itself with cultural shifts happening in the major cities of Pakistan.

“The coffee culture surfaced in Pakistan with the launch of Espresso in 2004 in Karachi, but the market really exploded when Gloria Jean’s entered the arena in 2007. The trend, however, gained momentum in 2010 when the youth took to the elegant coffee houses.”
– excerpt, Coffee culture is on every lip, Gulf News.

Timing was key to Mocca’s success, teenagers and university students who hung out at Masooms’ Pancake Lounge and Gloria Jeans matured to become MOCCA’s future clientele. Young professionals saw it as the perfect place to work, something which was made possible due to its central location in KLI (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad). And with freelancing on the rise, it soon became the goto place to hold meetings; the environment was professional enough, accessible enough and if you just ordered a coffee, reasonable enough.

And as millennials grew up, coffee became a luxury commodity.

Social media also had a bit to do with the hype around MOCCA. With more and more millennials joining Instagram and wanting to upload content, MOCCA offered a pretty sweet backdrop with its pristine Scandinavian interiors and minimalistic decor. And that still stands true, on every floor of the cafe, you will find someone trying to get the perfect mirror shot, selfie or a picture of their untouched coffee cup which is quickly becoming lukewarm.

Pakistani actor Adnan Siddiqui dines at Mocca Coffee.
Source: Mocca Coffee/Facebook

The cafe’s minimalistic interiors are also reflected on its social platforms with streamlined designs and carefully curated pictures. MOCCA is all about image.

And one image that it strongly pushes is that of sublime luxury. The sort of luxury an upper middle class millennial making a decent wage can afford without going bankrupt that is. Sipping a cup of MOCCA’s caramel latte, sitting on its rooftop on Mall 94 does feel luxurious. And MOCCA’s professional and capable staff adds icing on top of an already iced cake.

Small changes such as switches at every table, decent internet, and music that doesn’t get in your way has helped in selling the story. This was a place where you came to work, have a quick bite to eat with friends or sit down and chat with some coffee.

Even with the launch of new cafes, MOCCA still maintains its loyal customers. But to say that competition isn’t on the horizon would be a lie. Fast food chains like McDonalds have improved their coffee along with their breakfast menu and newer chains like Tea Leaf and Coffee Bean are dominating the scene in terms of artisan coffees. Moreover, with the rise of co-working spaces in KLI, more and more freelancers and creatives are making the shift.

The Canadian Coffee brand, Coffee Planet, which launched in Pakistan in 2013, reported to Gulf News that its clientele had gone up by 40 percent since 2015. Moreover with millennial money and disposable incomes on the rise, the coffee culture in Pakistan will continue to peak. The question is, will MOCCA remain a part of the movement?