Ready to explore Kigali's thriving specialty coffee scene? I recently spent a week in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, and was very impressed by the quantity of high-quality cafes and the dedication to producing some of the world's best coffees.
Although it's a small city, the coffee shops in this town offer some truly amazing brews. Rwanda might not have the size and power on the worldwide coffee scene as Kenya and Ethiopia, but it's a rising star and, in my opinion, offers equally delicious beans for the discerning coffee drinker.
From cozy cafes to bustling roasteries, we've got the scoop on the best places to get your caffeine fix. So, if you find yourself in this pretty african city, prepare for an unforgettable caffeinated adventure. Look no further, here are the best specialty coffee shops in Kigali, as chosen by a well-traveled self-proclaimed coffee snob.
Introduction to Kigali's Coffee Scene
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is fast becoming a destination for coffee connoisseurs as the country is a growing supplier of specialty coffee to the rest of the world (the parts that care about good, ethically-sourced beans). Discover a world of one-of-a-kind coffee experiences just waiting to be sipped, savored, and fully appreciated in the city's specialty coffee shops.
Specialty coffee enthusiasts can enjoy the best of Rwanda’s local brews at the excellent Question Coffee, Rubia Coffee Roastes, Bourbon Coffee and Kivu Noir Coffee.
Those looking to learn more about the process of specialty coffee can join the Specialty Coffee Masterclass offered by the wornderful people at Question Coffee Alternatively, Murakaza Neza Café and Rubia Coffee Roasters provide a more relaxed atmosphere for coffee-lovers to enjoy their drinks. With so many options available, there is no doubt that Kigali’s coffee scene is a must-visit destination.
1.Rubia Coffee Roasters
Rubia Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roastery and café located in Kimihurura near “ku kabindi” (a name you give to your taxi driver or moto taxi driver). For coffee connoisseurs and those seeking a truly one-of-a-kind java journey, this is the ultimate destination
Rubia Coffee Roasters serves coffee with bold, rich flavors harvested exclusively from Rwandan farmers. The also sell roasted beans and coffee equipment as well as pastries and meals.
Open every day from 7am to 8pm, so be sure to stop by and enjoy a cup while exploring Kigali's vibrant coffee scene.
This is my pick for the best cafe in town. These guys know their stuff and serve the tastiest brew in Kigali.
2. Shokola Café / Shokola Storytellers Café
Shokola Café is a cozy and welcoming coffee shop with a lovely terrace and stylish interior seats. It serves an array of specialty coffee drinks and snacks, as well as signature cakes and chocolates.
The café's signature drinks are made with local beans. Their menu also includes a selection of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whether you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix before exploring Kigali or wanting to take your time to savor a cup of specialty coffee, Shokola Café is the perfect spot. It's a destination in itself.
The cafe is located at the top floor of the public library building in Kacyiru. Enjoy the cool breezes and view while you sample the local brews.
Open Mon-Sat 7:30 – 6:30pm
3. Question Coffee
Step into the world of specialty coffee and tantalize your taste buds with the unique blends at ‘Question Coffee' in Gishushu. A true haven for coffee enthusiasts. This social enterprise is owned by dozens of cooperatives and over 30,000 women coffee growers in Rwanda. With 30% of the proceeds from the coffee sales being donated back to the farmers and their families, you can feel good about drinking your cup of java here.
It's clear from the hundreds of raving reviews on Google and social media, customers love the quality of their coffee and service. Not only that, but the shop features a beautiful acacia tree in its outdoor setting for a truly unique experience.
The company's mission is to build a sustainable and equitable coffee industry in Rwanda by working directly with women farmers, and by providing training and resources to help them improve the quality of their beans and increase their yields. Additionally, the company also operates its own roastery, which helps to create jobs and stimulate economic development in the region. Question Coffee isn't just a place to grab a delicious cup of joe, it's a beacon of change, empowering women coffee farmers in Rwanda to unleash their full potential. A truly impactful and unique business that's making the world a better place, one sip at a time. Proceeds support farmer trainings in Rwanda.
If you like what you see here, you can take part in a Specialty Coffee Masterclass, which will give you a first-hand look at how Rwanda's coffee is made, in the process of learning about Rwandan coffee and its background, and you’ll pick your own coffee bean cherries, taste an asortment of specialty blends, and create your own custom bean blend that's suited to your own preferences.
Plus, you'll have plenty of time to ask questions and get tips from experts in the industry.
Yet another excellent place to sample the best of Rwandan beans. This is also one of the world's best coffee businesses.
There are two Question Coffee locations in Kigali:
Open 7am to 6pm weekdays and 8am to 5pm on weekends.
4. Bourbon Coffee
For the discerning coffee aficionado, Bourbon Coffee is a top destination for an elevated and premium cup of coffee. Established in 2007, Bourbon Coffee has eight locations across Rwanda and the United States. Their Arabica Bourbon-roasted coffee is made from the highest quality green coffee beans and promises a delicious, superior cup of coffee. It's a great place to hold business meetings or just relax with friends over a cup of coffee.
Here are two of the best locations in Kigali:
5. Kivu Noir Coffee
For those looking for a unique specialty coffee experience, Kivu Noir Coffee is good chouce. This exclusive store and café is located in Kiyovu, near the boundary with Kimihurra. It's known for its high-quality Arabica beans from the west of the country, on the shores of Lake Kivu, hence the name.
The company's tagline is “The world's freshest coffee”
Savor the unique flavor of coffee beans grown, harvested, and sun-dried on the slopes of one of the world's last unpolluted environments. These beans are among the top 1% of coffees from a single estate.
Kivu Noir Coffee also offers specialty coffee classes on tasting and cupping, roasting, and more to help visitors learn more about their product.
One of the more expensive brews in the city. I noted a slight air of superiority here, despite the presence of a friendly barista. However, the coffee is excellent and the airy, mostly outdoor seating area is well worth a visit.
Inzora Rooftop Café
One of the most popular cafes in the city, and arguably the one with the best view, is Inzora Rooftop Café inside The Ikirezi Bookstore. Situated high up in Kacyiru, this boutique coffee shop offers stunning views of the city and the traditional life of the valley below. Inzora also provides custom tipples for Friday night cocktails, making it a great place to relax and unwind after a long week. The café is also located inside one of Kigali’s best-known and resourced bookstores, so you can even pick up a good read while enjoying your coffee.
Conclusion: Kigali's coffee scene is an experience
Kigali is compact, supremely tidy, and beautiful. It's a great place to sip perfectly crafted coffee on lush green verandas. Kigali's specialty coffee scene is one of the most unique and exciting in the world. Not only will you get to experience the best coffee Rwanda has to offer, but you're close to where the coffee is grown and produced. They like to keep things local here and it's easy to learn more about the process and its impact on the local community. You can also directly help support local farmers who are dedicated to producing some of the finest coffees in the world. Additionally, many of these specialty coffees come with a unique flavor profile that you won't find anywhere else. From bold and complex notes to subtle and sweet ones, you'll be able to find a flavor that suits your taste.
Kigali's coffee scene offers an incredible array of specialty coffee options for everyone. From the unique flavor profile of Rwandan coffee beans to the diverse range of offerings from local coffee shops, there is something for everyone. Whether you're looking to relax and sip on a latte or take part in a specialty coffee masterclass, Kigali's specialty coffee scene has something for you.
And if visiting the coffee shops has only begun to whet your appetite, a coffee farm tour might be just what you need to satisfy your cravings for all things coffee. Enjoy!