Thursday, July 4, 2024

The Best Cafes in Kigali

Kigali’s cafe scene has changed drastically since I wrote this ancient article way back in 2011. Time for an update! The good news is that some great cafes have been added to the city over the past three years and the oldies are still around, too. A lot of the new places are pretty fancy and have the prices to match, but it’s nice to have several options, many that are offering up some exciting things! It’s finally possible to get a decent piece of chocolate cake in Kigali… happy days!

Read on for some advice on where to get your coffee and croissant fix…

Aromas Coffee

Aromas Coffee, Kigali

If this adorable coffee shop wasn’t located so far away from town, we would be its regulars. The coffee is amazing and the food is as delicious as it is cheap. For an economical alternative to the brunch buffet at Heaven, come here for scrumptious pancakes and fruit smoothies. They also do this crazy huge steak omelet thing that has been known to lure people out to Remera for the sole purpose of eating it. The cafe itself is a bit bright, with the sun baking you through the giant window from early in the afternoon. But go for breakfast and you can get out before you cook.

Hours: Daily, 6am – 10:30pm
Phone: 0782 716 059 / 0782 514 916

Blues Cafe

Blues Cafe

The local Rwandan answer to Bourbon, meaning nearly muzungu-free and with bigger meals for smaller prices. Fairly decent salads, and pretty tasty burgers – just be prepared to wait. I’ve never received a salad here within an hour, so I’m not sure how well that bodes if you want a cooked meal. They charge for the internet, but the connection is generally reliable except that they shut it down during their popular lunch buffet. Their menu is very similar to Bourbon, drinks and all.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 7am – 8:30pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm
Phone: 0788 500 107

Bourbon Coffee

Bourbon MTN

If you’re Jones’n for a Starbucks-type atmosphere while in Rwanda, head to Bourbon. The icey drinks are good but the food is overpriced and underwhelming. If you do need to eat, try the warm zucchini or banana bread. They have good smoothies though, but their espresso is not so good. If you’re a new arrival to Kigali, this will probably one of the first places you discover.

You can find Bourbons at the Union Trade (UTC) and MTN Centres and at Kigali City Tower (KCT). There are also two Bourbons at the airport (one outside and one past customs) but they charge more than in town for smaller drinks and portions and they never seem to have much food when I go there to eat. The Bourbons are all pretty much the same but my favourite is the spacious one at the MTN Centre. If you can find a seat outside, you’ll have a great view of the city.

Hours: Daily, 7am – 10pm
Phone: 0788 524 620 (KCT) / 0788 494 790 (MTN) / 0788 730 789 (UTC)


Brioche, Kigali, Rwanda

This cafe has quickly become a chain, opening up two new stores in Gacuriro and town to compliment the original Brioche in Kacyiru. This place stands out for it’s delicious cakes. They’re seriously decadent and I’m in love with their diabetes-inducing chocolate bomb. It’s pricey at Rwf 5,000 but that’s money well spent, my friends. On the other hand, pricing a small water at Rwf 1,000 is customer abuse. The Gacuriro branch has a great view over the golf course and the new one in town has a nice setup and is a great place to hide away to do some work. No wifi there yet, though. They’ve very consistent with the quality of food across the three branches and their burgers and spaghetti bolognaise are both delicious and good value for the serving size.

Hours: Daily 6:30am – 8pm
Phone: 0787 613 233

Camelia Tea House

Camellia Tea House, Kigali

This place has closed.

This place is one of my favourites for their affordable prices, nice atmosphere, and tasty food. It has yet to be discovered in a big way by the muzungus so it makes a great place to hide away. Their menu is huge but they’re often out of whatever it is you want to order, so it could just be a ruse to lure you in, who knows. Regardless, the patio is a fantastic spot to enjoy a meal and a drink and to do some people watching. If you’re looking for some quiet, avoid this place at lunchtime as they’ve got a popular lunch buffet. Or, if you’re looking for the best lunch buffet in town, come at lunch, just try to arrive before 12:30pm in order to get a table.

Hours: Daily, 7am – 10pm
Phone: 0788 506 645 / 0788 309 808 / 0788 303 164

J. Lynn’s

J. Lynn's

This place has closed.

Formerly called African Bagel Company, this place has been renamed but has stuck with everything that made the old place very popular. The best example is Saturday mornings where missionaries and their children and hungover party people exist in harmony over a tray of delicious doughnuts. They do frozen pizzas, tortilla chips, hummus, and a few other interesting things, too. It’s not a place I get to often due to it being in deepest, darkest Kicukiro, but I always enjoy the nice garden atmosphere and friendly service each time I make the trek.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 4pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm (except on Umuganda), Closed Sunday
Phone: 0788 408 308

Magda Cafe


Located out in Kacyiru, this cafe is tucked at the back of an office-looking building that doesn’t do much to inspire. There’s no outdoor seating area or view to speak of, but their service is super attentive and fast. The furniture and dishes are all suspiciously Bourbon-esque and the menu, while slightly more interesting, is still very similar to theirs. It’s a quiet place that makes a great hideout if you want to use some free wifi (that wasn’t working when I was there) without bumping into too many people you know. It does get really busy around lunchtime, though.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 7am – 10pm, Friday: 7am – 5:30pm, Saturday: 6pm-11pm
Phone: 0788 305 466

Cafe Neo


This place has closed.

This place is so new that they don’t even have a sign on the street to mark their location. It’s a bit tricky to find for the first time but once you guess the correct driveway, you’re good. Check the map below for details. Neo is run by a Rwandan / Canadian whose goal is to serve up the best cup of coffee in town. Instead of using the leftovers from what’s exported, he makes sure to grab the good stuff before it heads overseas. They coffee is very good, the service is great, especially when the owner is around, and there’s a nice atmosphere. There aren’t a lot of food choices though… this is more a place for a great cup of coffee.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm, Saturday, 10am – 7pm, Closed Sunday

RaN Coffee Shop

RaN Coffee Shop

This place has moved to Nyamirambo.

This place is located on top of the library in Kacyiru, sort of behind the US Embassy. It’s got great views of an empty hill across the way that will likely fill up quickly with new houses. The food is ok and they do a syrupy sweet strawberry smoothie… something I have yet to see anywhere else in town. The food takes forever and isn’t anything special. The main draw here is the view.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 7am – 9pm, Sunday 7am – 5pm
Phone: 0788 302 220

Rz Manna

Rz Manna

This place has closed.

This Korean bakery is one of the most adorable places in Kigali. Staff here are super nice and there’s something just so damned ‘cute’ about the whole experience. They’ve got a couple of sandwiches on offer (the tuna is very good) but their focus is mainly bakery type things with a load of different types of pastries, doughnuts, cakes, and bread. They’ve added some outside seating which is great since the place gets pretty packed during lunch. They’ve got free wifi and they’re the first place in town to introduce a coffee loyalty card. Yay them!

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am – 10pm, Closed Sunday
Phone: 0789 184 448

Shokola & Shokola Lite

Shokola Lite

This place has moved to the Kigali library.

Due to a cupcake-related feud, I avoid the Shokolas but the new location in Kimihuura is beautiful and they both offer up good food and drinks in a nice atmosphere.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 8am – 10pm, Sunday 8am – 9pm
Phone: 0788 350 530

Simba Cafe


The food is good and reasonably priced, the servers all have remarkable memorization skills, and the wifi is free. You really cannot ask much more from a cafe in Kigali, especially when it’s attached to a grocery store. If there are a lot of people, though, the food might take a long time making it to the table, if it makes it at all. Strangely enough the garden salad always takes longer than a steak sandwich— both of which are worth trying out by the way. Also, they have awesome-looking ice cream sundaes and good prices. It’s always quite busy so it’s more of a place to go for some good food rather the sort of place you’d go to chill out.

Hours: Daily, 7am – 11pm
Phone: 0252 570 566

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  1. Love the article! Completely agree, Shokola, although pricey, is hands down my favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Somewhere in Kigali really needs to start serving mimosas . . . brunch anyone?

  2. Haha, I’m all about mimosas. What about that restaurant called Mimosa? I saw it when I lived here last summer, but never actually went there. I’m coming back here in a few weeks – does anyone knows if it’s still there?!

  3. Cat,

    Mimosa used to offer a nice, if somewhat pricey, buffet at lunch time. It’s location in Kacyiru made it popular with the office workers. Last I heard, it was taken over (with plans for changes?) towards the end of last year by some Kenyans who were…ahem…removed from other ventures around Kigali. I’ve no idea what the status is now.

  4. Yes i agree. Great place an love it. By th way has anyone had bread from JAVAH bakery in Kigali?, So far they have the best quality bread.

  5. Bourbon coffee in MTN sucks. Their coffee is okay but the service is extremely slow. I had to wait 50mins for a vegi burger. 50mins! Wifi speed is very slow as well. I wouldn’t go again seriously.

    • It’s posted on the map. Zoom in a bit and scroll over the icons to find it. It’s near Magda Cafe and Shokola Lite in Kacyiru.

  6. When is a proper Starbucks getting here? I have heard that they will sell Starbucks Coffee in the new Marriott (whenever it gets complete).

  7. Hey,i am uwimana J Claude and i have trained to make a good coffe and working in brioche coffe for one year and 10 months i am looking for Job any one who is/are interested on me i am ready to work with efficient and provide the profit to the company

    Email:[email protected]


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