Coffee may be Kenya’s no.1 export, but for the longest time, that’s all it was: something to ship overseas.
Now, with 100s of coffee shops in Nairobi, coffee culture has firmly taken hold in the country’s capital. Local Roasters and baristas are constantly refining their craft, creating aromatic and exciting blends to satisfy even the most discerning coffee connoisseurs.
This list is a taster of what to expect from Nairobi’s best coffee shops. We’ve only just started, so make sure you bookmark the page and return for more additions.
Lavington and Kilileshwa
- Location: James Gighuru Rd.
Pallet Cafe is one of the most unique coffee shops in Nairobi. Feisal, the cafe’s charismatic owner, has teamed up with a local NGO to hire and train members of Nairobi’s deaf community as servers and wait staff.
It’s a fantastic cause and a great demonstration of deaf people’s potential to thrive in any workplace – especially a restaurant.
But that’s not the only reason everyone in Nairobi loves Pallet Cafe.
The huge, beautiful garden setting is perfect for big groups or friends, families, and remote workers alike. The menu is a wide variety of healthy dishes made from fresh local ingredients. And the coffees are sublime.
It’s one of the most relaxing places in Nairobi, and competition is high, as you’ll see from the rest of the list.
Chekafe Japanese Sweet Factory
- Location: Kauria Close
Housed in a giant shed, Chekafe packs a lot into a small space. Besides delicious, expertly brewed coffees, it’s also renowned for its sushi and ramen menu, tasty treats, market days, and beautiful, serene garden settings.
Chekafe’s long benches make it ideal for relaxed solo work sessions on your laptop, while the garden tables are perfect for lazy lunches with friends.
- Location: State House Rd.
Lava Latte is more than just a coffee shop. Set in an old schoolyard, it’s a hub for Nairobi’s creative community, a popular workspace, an art gallery, and a lively event space.
Whether you’re here with a group of friends or chilling by yourself, you’ll wind up spending way longer than you planned. So take the day off, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy some delicious coffees and specialty teas.
Java House Lavington
- Location: James Gighuru Rd.
Most Java House branches in Nairobi feel a bit soulless and crowded. They’re not exactly places you get excited about visiting.
The Lavington branch, however, is an exception. Head upstairs, and you can enjoy a fresh breeze and sunshine on the balcony terrace or lounge with a book on the uber-comfy leather couches.
It was my go-to lazy Sunday brunch spot when I lived in Lavington and didn’t feel like crossing town.
Grenier au Pain
- Location: Riverside Dr.
As the name suggests, Grenier au Pain is a popular French-inspired cafe and bakery.
While it’s a bit more corporate than your classic Parisian cafe, it’s an excellent place to work and enjoy a great menu of expertly-brewed coffees and freshly-baked pastries and cakes.
- Barista and Co., Riverside Dr.
CJ’s Coffee House
- Location: Koinange St.
Entering CJ’s from Nairobi’s CBD’s packed streets, it’s impossible not to be blown away. With its vaulted ceilings, intricate metalwork, and beautiful glass roof, it’s an immediately impressive sight to behold.
And once you sit down, you won’t be disappointed.
CJ’s offers a massive menu of meals, cakes, drinks, and coffees to satisfy every possible preference. I’m impressed every time I visit and always find something new to eat or drink.
CJ’s is so good, it’s worth braving the CBD’s traffic for a visit. Just come on a Sunday when town is relatively quiet.
Connect Coffee Roasters
- Location: The Riverfront Office Complex
When a coffee shop is just across the hall from Uber’s HQ, you know it’s gonna be good.
Connect Coffee is home to the Guinness Brew I mentioned earlier and many other specialty coffees. If you’re feeling less adventurous, there’s a wide menu of classic brews, all made with passion and expertise.
You can also take your coffee and laptop to a little-known rooftop terrace with a spectacular view of Westlands’ latest high-rise building projects.
For the true coffee connoisseurs, Connect Coffee sells a small selection of home brewing equipment and hosts coffee courses and workshops throughout the year.
- Location: Sarit Centre
Newly opened in 2020, The Library has quickly gained popularity amongst Nairobi’s students and young professionals.
It’s an excellent place to work and study, with three levels of indoor and outdoor seating (including some fantastic honeycomb ‘pods’), plentiful cheap and tasty coffees, and a solid menu of snacks and small meals.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, quiet, distraction-free workspace with great coffee, The Library is easily one of Westlands’ best spots.
Barista & Co.
- Location: Sarit Centre
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Sarit’s fancy new shopping wing, Barista & Co. serves delicious coffees complimented with mouth-watering cakes.
There’s no wifi, so you’ll need to hotspot your phone or, y’know, talk to your fellow diners (God forbid). Seating is limited, and Barista & Co. is usually packed with shoppers, but if you come in the morning or afternoon, you shouldn’t have difficulty finding a spot.
Roasted Truth @ Ikigai Westlands
- Location: General Mathenge Rd.
As part of Ikigai coworking space, Roasted Truth has one of the most beautiful settings for any coffee shop in Nairobi.
Perched above Ikgai’s sloped garden, Roasted Truth’s terrace is surrounded by a dense canopy of trees and creeping vines. The tranquil, relaxing location is complimented by perfectly brewed coffees and delicious, healthy treats.
You don’t need to be a coworking membership at Ikigai to visit Roasted Truth, so if you’re looking for a quiet escape in the heart of Nairobi, check it out.
Spring Valley Coffee
- Location: Spring Valley Shopping Centre
Spring Valley is one of Kenya’s most popular coffee brands, renowned for its delicious, rich, and varied gourmet roasts. You’ll find them for sale all over the country.
But you may not know that Spring Valley Coffee started as a small coffee shop and bakery, all the way back in 2009. Coffee is roasted on-site (a tradition they’ve continued since day one) and served with love and appreciation by expert baristas.
New Spring Valley Coffee branches are popping up all over Kenya, but it’s always fun to go back to the beginning and see where it all started.
- Jade Cafe @ Zen Garden, Lower Kabete Rd.
- Location: Third Parklands Ave.
Coffee Casa wants to be your home away from home.
A relaxed, inviting atmosphere; super-friendly staff; comfortable seating; warm decor; and a hearty menu of coffees, cocktails, and tasty meals. I’d say they’ve outdone themselves.
It’s one of the most popular hangout spots in the heart of Parklands, and you can easily lose an entire day chilling out here.
Check out our interview with Coffee Casa’s founder Anhar Essajee to learn about her journey opening the Coffee Casa and the lessons she learned.
Muthaiga and Thigiri
Pallet Cafe – Thigiri Ridge
- Location: New Muthaiga Mall
Pallet Cafe’s second location brings everything you love about the first: a super-chill atmosphere in a beautiful garden setting; quirky design touches; a great cause to support; and – most importantly – fantastic coffees!
If you don’t feel like coffee, you can also choose from their selection of Kenya’s best craft beers.
Kesh Kesh Cafe
- Location: Timau Plaza
Get a taste of Eritrean culture in this much-loved cafe and restaurant. You can choose between a traditional (and very strong) Eritrean coffee or go for something more contemporary.
I recommend the Eritrean brews. Yes, they’re rocket fuel. But they’re delicious, and you won’t find anything like them anywhere else.
Coffee & Bagels
- Location: Lenana Rd.
There’s a lot more to Coffee & Bagels than the name suggests.
I mean, yes, they specialise in coffee… and bagels. But it’s so much more than that.
Coffee & Bagels only brews specialty filtered coffees and does so with expert skill and dedication. So, don’t come here looking for a cappuccino. Instead, get ready to experiment with crazy new forms of coffee you’ve probably never heard of before.
- Pete’s Cafe, The Arch Place
The River Cafe
- Location: Karura Forest
No trip to Karura Forest is complete with stopping off at The River Cafe afterwards.
Perched on the edge of the forest, it’s basically a giant balcony looking out over the canopy. There’s always a pleasant breeze (no matter how hot Nairobi gets) and a chilled out vibe, perfect for winding down and escaping the city.
The focus here is expensive lunches for big groups of friends or family, but if you just need a hit of caffeine, there’s plenty of quiet tables for you too!
- Four Cafe Bistro, Kitisuru Warwick Centre
What Are Your Favourite Coffee Shops in Nairobi?
Leave your reviews in the comments, and we’ll be sure to check them out soon.