Our stars were aligned, and the universe had to make us meet…over a cup of coffee and chocolate chip cookies at Espresso!

Espresso cafe, Karachi

What’s Espresso?

Espresso is a family-owned business based in Karachi; it opened its first shop at Zamzama in 2006. It is the first and only coffee house of its time serving authentic Italian espresso-based drinks and a cafe style menu in the city.

During my television reporting days in 2007, Espresso was one of the most popular coffee spots in town. Most media folks would catch a breath and unwind there after frenzied news days — which were many, if you lived in Karachi! Whenever I visit my hometown, I go there with my former colleagues. 

MTG Collaborators…

Post-MTG launch, I visited Karachi in 2019 to reconnect with media colleagues and increase the visibility of the Seattle-based media outlet. First stop: Mariam Aziz at Espresso! Her and I go way back, we were coworkers at Dawn News TV in the early 2000s. I remember Mariam as someone who kept to herself, was laser-focused on work, introverted, creative, thoughtful, soft-spoken, and always had a smile. She worked on documentaries there.

2019, Karachi: Mariam and I reconnected at Espresso

Fast forward to 2024! Team building phase…

As I was working on MTG’s fourth music project, the biggest challenge was I intended to direct remotely, which can be tricky! I picked a team very thoughtfully: people I had worked with in the past, my genuine friends and coworkers, honest folks—those I could trust blindly. Mariam Aziz was the first person that came to mind for the film shoot. I reached out to her, and she said yes right away!

Mariam Aziz has a Master’s in filming from UT Austin and teaches filming at IBA and Habib University. Working with her has been such a surreal experience. She is a thorough professional and made sure I was satisfied with every frame, lighting, and backdrop of the shoot. 

Seattle, Karachi, Lahore: MTG Collab meeting; Maria Unera, Bilal Ali, Mariam Aziz, Sameer Shami, Faisal Nazami
2024, Karachi: MTG Video filming

Directing the artists remotely, guiding them with their expressions, body language, and action shots has been a very memorable experience for me. Most of all — working with Mariam again was such a treat! She has the best work ethic. It was certainly nostalgic and emotional, I felt like I was teleported to Karachi. 

So, here’s the news…

MTG’s star-studded project is in the works. The track features some of the top influencers in the Pakistan music industry, including the world-renowned actor, singer Fawad Khan who made his Hollywood debut with Ms. Marvel; Bilal Ali, lead vocalist of Kashmir Band, winners of Pepsi Battle of The Bands (season 2, 2017); and Maria Fatima Unera, Pakistani Philipina singer, songwriter who was recently featured on Spotify; best of Pakistani women on EQUAL Pakistan playlist — her poster was displayed at Time Square, New York; she was the EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador for January 2023. Keep watching this space for more updates!

Maheen Mustafa is the founder of MTG a Seattle-based global media outlet and production house that aims to elevate BIPOC and immigrant narratives. She covers beats social impact, wellness, business, culture, climate and race. Twitter handle @MaheenM_.