“Coffee helps me maintain my “never killed anyone streak” – Anonymous
Kenya is a tea and beer drinking country. That has been the norm for far too long. But as urbanized and status-driven young professionals start to make up most of the population in the cities, some of the best coffee shops in Nairobi have taken advantage of the fact that these people need the kind of jolt that only well-brewed caffeine can give, and they do not want to drink instant coffee from a tin.
Despite the fact that Kenya is one of the world’s most renowned producers of Arabica coffee, just years ago not very many establishments sold the stuff. But now you will find a high-end coffee shop in almost every corner in the three major cities (Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu). From the decor to the Caffè macchiatos, Cappuccinos and Espressos, Kenyan coffee houses have come a long way and make up some of the best, most impressive meeting points for business and pleasure alike.
If you ever find yourself in the country and just happen to have a particular craving for a Caffè mocha, here are some of the most reliable and authentic/traditional coffee spots to enjoy coffee:
This is very much the ‘home of coffee’ in Kenya. Ever since Java House introduced coffee drinking and gourmet café culture to Kenya way back in 1999, this iconic coffee house has opened up branches in almost every major town. From Nairobi to Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kericho plus Nanyuki, the quality of service is impeccably standardized throughout the different branches. The coffee is amazing as is to be expected from one of the leading coffee houses in the country, and the decor screams class and upward mobility all the way. In Nairobi, you will find a branch in almost every noteworthy location such as the ABC Place, City Hall, Galleria Mall, Capital Center, Gigiri and JKIA (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport).
When it comes to coffee houses in Kenya, ArtCaffe is perhaps as high end as it gets. That doesn’t mean that the prices are unreasonable, it just means that they have excellent coffee served within beautifully decorated establishments found in some of the most iconic locations in the city. ‘ArtCaffe Grand’ for example, found on the ground floor of Westgate Mall, is an elegantly decorated space with a sunlit balcony and a stylish outside bar area that gives way to comfortable seating while you get tantalized by the scents of brewing coffee and baking pastries from the large ArtBakery Counter.
The Bronze Roof Café
Located within the beautifully serene grounds of the Matbronze Gallery in Lang’ata, The Bronze Roof Cafe is one for the artsy, quiet and collected types. The open-air garden only adds to the rejuvenating power of their coffee. If you are looking to just take a minute from the hectic city life, you might want to head out here and just smell the roses while you drink your coffee.
Pete’s Café & Burrito Haven
Located on the ground floor of Bishop Magua Center on Ngong Road, Pete’s Café & Burrito Haven is a quaint coffee house that prides itself in serving you the best, hand roasted coffee on this side of the Savannah. With Espressos, Café au Lait and Café Americanos on the menu, only the tantalizing whiff of baking pastries will distract you from the gorgeous aroma of freshly ground and brewed coffee when you visit the establishment. They are also well known for their Burritos, Quesadillas as well as Tacos.
Four Café Bistro
Located at the Warwick Center in Gigiri near the UN Complex, Four Café Bistro is a quiet little coffee shop that has modern decor, a wide variety of caffeinated drinks and an international choice menu. The environment is quite sophisticated and so are the patrons. Well frequented by expats and locals alike, the Four Café Bistro has paninis that will simply send your taste buds reeling. It also has an excellent venue for kids to play while being supervised by the well-mannered staff as the adults enjoy their Mocha lattes or cocktails.
Gibson’s Coffee House
Gibson’s Coffee House on Banda Street in the CBD has been around forever; with good reason. They grow their own coffee, a tradition that was started by Gibson over 50 years ago when Kenya gained her independence. The Coffee House is an extension of a thriving coffee growing and marketing business and as is in keeping with most establishments that have an illustrious history, the service, decor and yes, coffee at Gibson Coffee House is absolutely impeccable. Focused on marketing Kenyan coffee to Kenyans and all her visitors, this is one coffee house that MUST be on your list if you ever find yourself in Nairobi’s Central Business District.
Kaldis Coffee House
Well known by the locals, Kaldis Coffee House has more to offer than just reasonable prices and good coffee. As soon as you walk in, you will be welcomed by the vibrant atmosphere, high-quality service and beautiful music. The alluring aroma of freshly brewed coffee will have you sitting down and quickly rifling through the menu for your favourite cup of Joe. They also claim to have the best milkshake in Nairobi. With such a bold statement, you have no choice but to try it out.
You most definitely should also try visiting:
- News Cafe at the Sarit Center
- The Mug on Kaunda Street
- Jade Coffee & Tea House in Spring Valley
- Urban Grind Coffee & Grill on Uhuru Highway
The options are seemingly endless and this is just in Nairobi. Mombasa has even better, more traditional coffee houses that serve authentic brews made in the Swahili style of the flamboyant Kenyan coast. The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere and decors superb, service is excellent and the crowds are as Kenyan as it gets. At the end of a long day, if you are not going out for a beer as is the custom here, you should treat your taste buds to some of the finest coffee: grown, roasted and brewed right here in Kenya.