All Round Excellence

Why Awake Coffee Roasters is your next favorite hangout

By Ariz Hoque

Since the pandemic, Dhanmondi has been seeing a revival in its café culture, with fresh new outlets popping up, offering not just delicious food, but a place to make memories. One such highly anticipated arrival was of Awake Coffee Roaster on Road 2

The first thing I noticed when walking in was the ambience. It was sleek and spacious, airy, bright, and minimalistic, which had an instantly calming effect. Chowdhury Tahirina Saara, the franchise owner of this café, talked about her vision for the space as a place where one can breathe easy and shed the chaos of the city outside. “I always wanted to create a calm place, not something crowded. I go to a cafe not just to eat and hang out with friends.”

The working mom of two very young children (both under two) talked about all the planning she did while on maternity leave. A lot of thought has definitely gone into making this a functional space for different kinds of clients. “There are a lot of people who come in and work all day long here. [Some come for] corporate meetings, we have students coming in for projects, and we also have people coming just to hang out.” As someone with a lifelong interest in hosting, she had to take into account the varying needs of each of these types of clients.

“You won’t feel uncomfortable sitting anywhere in this place because you will find that each corner is different. We have a comfy zone for casual hangouts. We have bigger tables where you can hold your meetings. We cave quiet corners where you can work remotely, and no one will disturb you. We’ve put in plug points around the place so you can sit anywhere, plug in and work.”

At the heart of this franchise is of course its coffee, which is the purview of founder and franchisor Navid Hasan. A chef by profession, he imports his ingredients, which includes 12 varieties of coffee from four different countries, which he blends and roasts himself at the café to provide the customers with unique flavors and strengths. He is also responsible for sourcing the freshest ingredients, both local produce and imported ingredients, so that there is no compromise with quality.

“Awake is a place for coffee lovers, and we wanted to create a space that welcomed conversations around coffee”
~ Chowdhury Tahirina Saara

Tahirina talked about the emphasis on good food, and the intention of building Awake as a premium coffee brand, and teased the plans for bringing in an experience zone for coffee lovers to see the journey from bean to beverage, get a live demo of the coffee being roasted and blended. Thus assured, it was time to taste the food.

I tried their beef croissant sandwich, which featured a buttery, flaky croissant, with the beef melting into the sharp cheddar inside to create a taste that was simple and delicious. Their chicken pie is a nostalgia hit for anyone who grew up eating roasted chicken patties. I sampled their quiche, which is a French tart consisting of a pastry crust topped off with a savory crust. Although these are usually vegetarian dishes, Awake’s quiche is a combination of soft, fluffy egg, rich cheese and chicken sausage to add texture.

They do have vegetarian and vegan options, their hummus sandwich being one to try. I found the combination of the grilled bread, the smooth hummus and the sweetness brought by the roasted bell peppers a very satisfying one, and served with chips and the tangy signature sauce, it was a winner.

For those looking for a meal option, I would heartily recommend the Spanish breakfast meal, which features fresh baked croissant, Spanish omelette, with butter, jam and baked beans. The omelette, with the bell pepper and onions is the heart of the meal, and a simple, but hearty, flavorful feast.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you will not leave Awake disappointed. My favorite item on the list was their salted caramel brownie – a real banger of a dessert with a perfectly moist brownie base, and the delightful salted caramel topping. Their Oreo cheesecake is also good, and you can actually taste the Oreo flavor against the smooth cheese. Another sweet treat I loved was the chocolate mousse, which had a layer of that delicious cake that provided the right balance of textures.

Aside from the great coffee, Awake also has some creative chillers, like their blood orange mojito. And their berry coffee tonic, which are both soda-based and served with ice. You want to stir these up for that perfect sip, though!

“We import 12 different varieties of coffees from four countries, and Navid Bhai roasts these himself and creates his own blends, so every cup is unique. We have plans on creating an experience zone where coffee lovers can get to see the different stages of this process and further customize their coffee experience”

The founders of Awake Coffee Roasters have a vision for building an authentic homegrown premium coffee brand, and if my first impressions are anything to go by, they are definitely off to a great start. It’s been less than a month since they opened, and the place is gaining a loyal following fast, so there’s so much to look forward to.

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