Over the past few years, trendy coffee shops have been mushrooming all over Nairobi, serving home-grown espressos and cappuccinos to a new generation of Kenyans breaking from the tea-drinking traditions.
Until very recently, our main choices were Dormans and Java, both serving very nice coffees. Dormans was founded in 1950 and has become one of Kenya’s leading coffee roasters and exporters. Dormans currently has 11 branches strategically placed around busy places in and around Nairobi and Mombasa. Nairobi Java House on the other hand claims to be home to some of the finest, fresh roasted gourmet coffees in the world, with currently 8 coffee shops in Nairobi.
Sasini recently ventured into the coffee house business with the opening of Savanna Coffee Lounge on Loita Street in Nairobi in November 2007, and a second outlet at the National Museums of Kenya opened towards the end of April 2008. It is expected that two more outlets will be opened before the end of 2008. A new player, Artcaffe (apparently they don't have a website yet), has just entered the market and we are now really spoilt for choice. Other non-chain coffee shops have also come up in Nairobi. Savanna and Artcaffe have now become my favorite coffee shops. Just because they consistently prepare outstanding espressos, while at Dormans and Java the quality of your coffee can vary a lot and depends mainly on the barrista preparing it... And my first prize goes to the Savanna Coffee Lounge at the National Museums of Kenya, because of the lovely balcony terrace overlooking the snake park and the botanical gardens with its variety of tall trees. Anyone with another top coffee shop in Kenya?
For those of you wondering where your shots of caffeine come from and what it takes to deliver them to your table, Kahawa; Kenya's Black Gold; The Story of Kenya Coffee is an excellent book published by Dormans explaining how coffee came to Kenya, how the unique Kenyan varieties were developed and how a washing process second to none was created. Kahawa; Kenya's Black Gold; The Story of Kenya Coffee shows with understandable text and nice photos why Kenyan coffee is so highly valued around the world.