Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Moustaches, controversy and a cup of coffee

Published in Nov-Dec 2013
How Sattar Buksh went from a spoof to the real deal.
From Starbucks to Sattar Buksh: Inspiration struck when Yousuf was sitting at a Starbucks in Dubai and noticed that the Arabic script practically said ‘Sattar Buksh’ in Urdu.
From Starbucks to Sattar Buksh: Inspiration struck when Yousuf was sitting at a Starbucks in Dubai and noticed that the Arabic script practically said ‘Sattar Buksh’ in Urdu.

When Aurora covered the emerging coffee culture in Pakistan in 2006, there weren’t many coffee shops in Pakistan. Costa, Espresso and Hotspot had recently been established and rumours were rampant that Starbucks was coming to town.

Although Starbucks is still being awaited, 2013 witnessed the launch of a ‘satire’ of the global franchise in the form of Sattar Buksh – a coffee shop cum restaurant in Karachi’s new emerging food strip in Clifton’s Block 3. It is the brainchild of two ad men Adnan Yousuf and Rizwan Ahmed Malik (both of whom have been profiled in Aurora) as well as a third partner who prefers to remain anonymous.

“The name started out as a joke,” says Yousuf. “I was sitting at a Starbucks in Dubai with a few friends and we noticed that if you look at the Arabic script that is used to write Starbucks, it practically says Sattar Buksh in Urdu.”

Yousuf then established a Facebook page for the fictitious Sattar Buksh Coffee Shop in July 2012, and says that within a week it had more than a thousand followers, which led the trio to consider establishing the coffee shop for real. The logo for Sattar Buksh that was initially used on the Facebook page was similar to that of Starbucks.

The coffee shop opened for business in October, a few weeks after which Yousuf was served with a legal notice by Starbucks, citing two objections.

The first was to the name Sattar Buksh.

“We discussed this with our lawyers and in our reply to the notice we stated that Starbucks was established in 1973, while the name Sattar Buksh has been around for at least 500 years or more, so you cannot contest the name.” The name therefore remained.

The second objection was with regard to the Sattar Buksh logo.

“The notice said something to the effect that ‘you are trying to fool our customers by using this logo and making them walk into your joint.’ The logo that they said we had copied had been abandoned by Starbucks in February 2011 (it had a circle around it with the writing. while the current logo in use only has a graphic and no writing around it), which was what we stated in our response. We added that our font and colour values are different and that our logo has a moustache guy instead of a mermaid, as well as tea leaves and coffee beans and can therefore not be mixed up with the Starbucks logo. However, our lawyers told us that while they cannot contest the name, they could potentially take us to court over the logo and that could result in a stay order. This would mean that we would have to shut down the coffee shop until the issue was resolved in court. Therefore, we have modified the logo – for now.”


“The name started out as a joke,” says Yousuf. “I was sitting at a Starbucks in Dubai with a few friends and we noticed that if you look at the Arabic script that is used to write Starbucks, it practically says Sattar Buksh in Urdu.”


Yousuf also adds that Starbucks’ main revenue comes from providing coffee shops the world over with coffee, which can be legally imported.

“If we wanted to use Starbucks coffee, it would have been the easiest thing to do. However, the coffee we serve is not Starbucks’ but a Brazilian blend that no other coffee shop in Pakistan is serving.”

Controversy aside, the initial response to Sattar Buksh has been overwhelming, says Yousuf, and this is best illustrated by the fact that the waiting queues during the first week of the opening extended to well outside the café. Yousuf is happy to admit that the Starbucks-Sattar Buksh controversy did help to create the initial buzz.

The concept of the café for Yousuf is simple: to serve equally good desi and continental food.

“I am a very desi person at heart, and I like good tea. The funny thing is that although Pakistan is one of the largest tea consumers in the world, even the finest establishments serve tea made from teabags rather than tea leaves, while they do serve very good coffee. We saw the gap in the market, which is why we serve equally good coffee and tea, as well as good desi and angrezi food.”

The menu offering ranges from bun kababs and lassi to pizzas and paninis (Yousuf took a course in Italy).

The marketing of Sattar Buksh has been limited to social media, which includes the ‘moustache meme’. (The straws at the café have a moustache attached, so when someone is using them it seems as if they have a moustache.) The purpose was to encourage people to use the straws and upload their ‘selfies’ with moustaches.

“The moustache meme was part of our social media campaign, and the response has been great.”

The moustache may have garnered plenty of social media attention but the fact remains that there were a substantial amount of negative reviews about the food on several blogs and Facebook groups.

Yousuf admits the café was suffering from “service and staff issues” initially, but is confident that they will be overcome. He attributes these partially to the initial overwhelming customer response and adds that all complaints have been taken seriously.

Future plans for Sattar Buksh include the establishment of a space on the first floor of the café that can be used as an art gallery or a venue for events such as concerts or book readings.

“We knew that however hard we try the buzz will decrease eventually; this space will allow us to reinvent ourselves, and bring in more traffic to the café.”

Clearly, despite the controversies, it seems that Sattar Buksh is here to stay.

Mamun M. Adil is Manager, BD&R, DAWN. mamun.adil@gmail.com