Never has the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” been more apparent than with the new café at Jhamsikhel, Brown Sugar. People might have misconceptions about the café and bakery given their name, but rest assured on the disassociation. The café, still awaiting a formal opening, has been providing expats and locals alike a taste of what’s to come since the last month or so. Given the location (right opposite British School), it is little wonder that the main customers that Brown Sugar caters to right now is the expat community. But Miraz Roshan, Executive Officer of the café, has bigger and better plans for this eatery; he plans to expand the café to the locals and bring to them a flavor of organic and healthy food.
Noticing that the NGOs and INGOs that are helping rehabilitate drug addicts and abusers fail to create a sustainable environment for these former abusers after rehab, Miraz established Brown Sugar to sustain the former abusers and help them lead an independent life. “We have become too dependent on NGOs and INGOs for this and have not learned to become independent. We need a sustainable plan of action that not only helps the drug abusers overcome the addiction but also sustain themselves after they get out of rehab”, says Miraz.
In fact, most the staff and cooks at Brown Sugar are former abusers, reformed from their past demons and trying to lead an independent life. “Profitless organizations are indeed a very noble thing, but they don’t provide the people with a sustainable approach to leading life after reform”, notes Roshan. Specializing in freshly baked German breads as well as organic frozen yogurt and ice cream, the breakfast spread at Brown Sugar is a good one. The staff has been thoroughly trained to make fresh German bread by a German technical expert for 3 months.
Along with homemade bread, the organic and healthy theme of the menu is further highlighted by the fresh frozen yogurt that is brought in daily from a Bhaktapur dairy. “We are trying to highlight the importance of organic and fresh food in the café because we’ve been too indulgent in fast food.” Not only that, Brown Sugar is also trying to incorporate local ingredients into their food with ingredients like honey and spices all coming from the local community around the café. Not only do they serve up quite a refreshing frozen yogurt, they also make their organic ice cream themselves.
Asked what the speciality of Brown Sugar was, Roshan replies “We serve a special Jogi Bhaat where we mix two or three types of rice along with fresh vegetables and olive oil which leads to a healthy and low fat dish. In ancient times, jogis would have a meal made from a variety of different rice that was very healthy; we’re trying to recreate that. Also, we use brown sugar because it is the raw form of sugar and is a healthier alternative.” Not only does the café specialize in breakfast, they also serve the best of fresh sandwiches, thaalis and Italian food.
Incorporating a 3Ps philosophy, the café is trying to reach out to the people, the planet and to profit. The café hopes to eradicate the social stigma that surrounds abusers by showing a model of how people can actually change and also empower the community, while also trying to incorporate organic food that helps the planet. Lastly, when asked about the profit, Miraj replies “We are trying to show our customers that their money is going to sustain the lives of former social outcasts with utmost transparency.”