MOTW Coffee & Pastries is expanding outside of Indiana for the first time, with a coffee shop coming soon to Lombard promising globally inspired, “funky” and often seasonal drinks, snacks and treats.
Sajjad Shah, 32, started MOTW Coffee & Pastries in Indianapolis in 2021. Following the success of the first location, he opened three more in Indiana. The new Lombard cafe will be his fifth MOTW location.
MOTW Coffee & Pastries stems from an Instagram page Shah started nearly 10 years ago, Muslims of the World, which he said he created to showcase the diversity of Muslims and share stories of the diaspora. The platform was inspired by the digital diary Humans of New York, which features portraits and interviews of people in New York City.
Muslims of the World has garnered over 700,000 followers on Instagram. In 2018, Shah came out with a book called “Muslims of the World: Portraits and Stories,” which was based on the social media account.
After tackling the digital space, authordom and charity work through the MOTW brand, Shah said there was still something missing.
“We had this incredible social media platform but we had no physical presence,” he said.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Shah said his family hails from Lahore, Pakistan. He described himself as a “serial entrepreneur.” Shah’s wife is from Yemen, and he said she “makes incredible Yemeni chai that her great-grandmother taught her.” They became familiar with the coffee shop business through his in-laws, and Shah thought it would be a good way to create roots in the community.
Shah announced franchising a couple of months ago and was met with tons of interest. Plans for franchise locations are in the works in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.
The Lombard MOTW, at 109 S. Main St., should be open by the end of January, Shah said, as he and his local team check off the last of the items on the to-do list.
“We have a lot of followers from Chicago that know who we are, so we already have a lot of people talking about MOTW Coffee over there,” Shah said. “We have a very diverse customer base, and Chicago is a very diverse city. It made sense to be there. It’s a cool opportunity for sure.”
Besides more traditional options like Yemeni chai and a Yemeni latte, coffee offerings include a Biscoff latte with a scoop of cookie butter and pumps of vanilla syrup and a Spanish latte with condensed milk and a dash of cinnamon. Shah said MOTW prides itself on serving up “some really cool, funky flavors.”
“I would say that people really enjoy the fact that we have a lot of variety when it comes to our drinks,” Shah said.
Shah’s favorite drink is their brown sugar shaken espresso, which is a layered drink with sweet foam, milk and espresso on the bottom.
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The beans they use come from a roastery in Indiana, Shah said, and they use different blends for the regular coffee, decaf options and espresso.
The coffee shop also has snacks made in-house, like the savory za’atar toast and decadent Nutella toast, as well as some Arabic pastries and a selection of muffins, such as a French toast muffin, which is another favorite of Shah’s.
The menu changes, Shah said, so customers can often have something new to try when they come in. They might pull out a creamy pistachio latte during the spring, Shah said, and focus on “refreshers and drinks that’ll cool you down during the hot Chicago summer.” He also hopes to expand the menu to include coffee and teas from other countries, such as Pakistan and Turkey.
While the hours are not set just yet, Shah said he wants the Lombard location to be open every day from “early in the morning to late at night.”
“It’s going to be the spot,” Shah said. “We’re envisioning going until midnight during the weekdays, and on Saturday and Sunday, we might be open until 1 or 2 in the morning.”
MOTW Coffee & Pastries, 109 S. Main St., Lombard, motw.coffee