The Best Coffee Shops in Nairobi, Kenya

Producing some of the best Arabica coffee in the world, Kenya's capital has no shortage of cafés
Producing some of the best Arabica coffee in the world, Kenya's capital has no shortage of cafés | © Weyo / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Corlena Bailey
4 June 2021

You don’t need to be a caffeine connoisseur to know that Kenya produces some of the best Arabica coffee in the world. The country itself may not make much of a fuss about beans and brews, but there are some terrific cafés in the capital if you want a roast with the most. Here are some of the best places to get yourself a perfect coffee when visiting Nairobi.

Artcaffé

Coffee Shop, Coffee
Map View

This café is well known for turning out some of the best coffee and pastries in the city. There are eight branches in Nairobi, and all share the same easy-living ambience. Head-turning art, outdoor balconies, a full cocktail bar, a tip-top bakery, appetising meals and groovy music all combine to make Artcaffé the business for corporate meetings, and leisurely get-togethers, too. The baristas here are rigorously trained to understand what makes a faultless cup. And we just adored their funkily designed holiday-season cups at the end of 2020, printed with winning designs from those sent in by customers for the competition #ARTOFTHECITY. Roll on December 2021!

Tin Roof Café

Cafe, African, $$$
Map View
In a city slowly succumbing to shopping-mall culture, the founding principal behind this coffee-crazy outlet was to give people a lush outdoor space for a break. That was 2013. And it’s certainly worked. Tin Roof Café is a delightfully laid-back spot, with a slightly farm feel, what with the faux-fur-topped milk churns for stools. The menu is a greatest hits of brunch classics, from smoothie bowls to smashed avo on toast. Lunch options include paninis and burgers, wraps and crepes. Hang around and chill until you’re all caffeined out, in a dream spot away from the city’s bustle.

Java House

Coffee Shop, Coffee, $$$
Map View
An interior view of a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi January 20, 2012. Kenya's rich and new middle classes have a growing taste for coffee and ice cream. That's just one sign that African states such as Kenya are changing. Even as rich countries fac
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Java House was one of the first coffee shops in the city, and when you’re in the mood for a real Kenyan brew, this place serves one of the best hand-roasted varieties in the country. Nairobi Java House is a big name nationally, with more than 20 branches in the capital alone. A past winner of the People’s Choice Awards, it’s got both indoor and outdoor seating and is family-friendly, with playgrounds for children at some of the locations. By the way, the coffee to order is Kenyan kahawa – or maybe try a milkshake – with a cooling scoop or two of ice cream.

Gibsons Coffee House

Cafe, Fast Food, Coffee
Map View

Gibsons coffee has been a trustworthy brand in Kenya for 50 years, acquiring markets both locally and overseas; in fact, it’s got a mail-order following around the world. Their coffee shop in Nairobi’s central business district does very well indeed, among the caffe latte-drinking and cake-loving regulars here for a catch-up. Coffee is not the only brew – they’re also good at teas, and there are refreshing juices and shakes to go with the morning pastries.

Pete’s Café and Burrito Haven

Cafe, Restaurant, African, $$$
Map View
No need to go to Mexico to enjoy delicious authentic Mexican food. But even better than Pete’s tasty Mexican food is their wide selection of caffeinated beverages. A 2015 Taste Awards nominee, Pete’s Café & Burrito Haven is second to none in Nairobi, offering a combo of great coffee and fine food – order their famous burritos alongside a caffe latte or a caffe mocha. The tastefully decorated establishment also makes Pete’s the ideal rendezvous spot for couples.

Jade Patisserie at Zen Garden

Coffee Shop, Coffee
Map View

In the heart of affluent Spring Valley, overlooking the lovely Zen Garden, Jade Patisserie is a high-end affair open every day for delicious breakfasts, light lunches and snacks. To wash it all down, order from the list of exotic teas and coffee. You can take a seat on the terrace or surrounded by the artistic interiors. Children like it here – no wonder, as there’s a great menu tailored to young tastes.

Dormans Coffee

Coffee Shop, Coffee
Map View
Customers sit inside the Dormans coffee shop at the reopened Westgate shopping mall in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 18, 2015. Kenya's Westgate shopping mall reopened on Saturday for the first time since al Shabaab gunmen stormed the mall killing at least
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Strictly speaking, Dormans isn’t a café, it’s a coffee brand and roaster with its HQ on the outskirts of Nairobi. But it does have a couple of concession stands dotted around the city – in shopping centres and airports, mainly. If you didn’t know, they’d be all too easy to miss, but that would be a travesty as you’d be missing out on arguably Kenya’s best coffee. They roast several different blends from beans picked from farms in the volcanic foothills of Mount Kenya, but look out for the “special reserve” blends, which have that extra depth of flavour and richness.

Alex Allen contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on June 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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