Instead of sending its best beans across the world, Uganda has slowly turned its coffee from an export into a delicious brew savoured at home and loved by the locals. The beans flow from the slopes of the Rwenzori and Elgon mountains and the west of the River Nile into coffee houses in Uganda's capital city. Coffee houses here take pride in their unique blends, shortening the distance from the farmer’s field to your coffee cup. Here are our favourite places to grab an East African brew in Kampala.
Hidden behind a bush of colourful foliage near the busy shopping centre Kisementi, a hedged path leads to Endiro Coffee, a beautiful little space serving coffee ground and brewed in-house. Grab a seat in the homey, comfortable loft upstairs, and with the right company, you'd think you were having coffee at the family dining table. Endiro’s motto of ‘brewing a better world’ highlights their commitment to buying coffee directly from farmers they know, train and equip in the town of Bududa on the slopes of Mt Elgon.
Good African Coffee
In the popular shopping area of Lugogo, Good African Coffee (goodafrican.com) is a trendy place for weary shoppers to put their feet up and relax. Grab a cup of the single-origin coffee that empowers thousands of local Ugandan farmers and communities and pair it with one of the heavenly handmade chocolate bars.
The heat of the city will drive you into the haven of CaféJavas (cafejavas.co.ug) sooner or later. With branches all over Kampala, this cafe is undoubtedly one of the most popular spots for a cup. Try CaféJavas' signature blend: a mocha or cappuccino amped up with a shot of espresso made from locally grown coffee. If you seek refuge from the bustling streets, order a drink in the location on Kampala Road opposite the main post office, which sports an old-school atmosphere with green velvet-covered booths, old books, dial-up phones and hooded reading lamps.
An import from Uganda’s neighbour to the east, Java House (javahouseafrica.com) brews delicious cups of Kenyan coffee that’s hand roasted daily in small batches. Java House is popular for their ice-blended coffee frappes topped with a generous clouds of whipped cream, a perfect cool-down after a warm afternoon of sightseeing. Java House is not just about the coffee, and it's worth seeking out the amazing chocolate fudge. The tables are often taken up by coffee drinkers bent over their laptops, lapping up the fast wi-fi.
Dropping into the self-proclaimed ‘happiness capital’ is one of the best ways to start your morning in Kampala. The baristas at Café Pap take a few extra seconds of their time to make each drink special by carefully writing kind words like lovely, cherished and dear in chocolate syrup on top of your coffee. The beans used here come from the slopes of Mt Elgon near the underground Sisiyi River are roasted to perfection at the shop, giving a satisfyingly sweet flavour.
Brood is the Dutch word for bread, which tells you immediately what this place’s forte is, but the freshly brewed coffee is up there too. Several branches of BBROOD (bbrood.ug) dot the city, but each shop can hold only about 10 customers at a time. The best one is tucked into a corner of New Day, a little bookshop inside Acacia Mall, a great stop for sandwiches and coffee at lunch.
After strolling through African Village, a huge handicraft market that's open daily from 8am to 7pm, walk across Buganda Road to 1000 Cups, one of the first coffee shops in Kampala. Pass by the vintage stools and grab a seat on the cosy balcony outside in a low chair with overstuffed pillows. The cafe is a favourite of travellers from all over the world who are drawn to the cafe's down-to-earth feel.
Away from the noisy city in the suburbs of Kololo, you’ll find Prunes amongst a sprawling garden. The coffee served here is a secret blend created by the proprietor from locally sourced beans, making a rich fruity espresso. Prunes is also one of the best places to get delicious healthy food or breakfast in Kampala. Time your visit for a Saturday when the farmers market selling local fruits, vegetables and handmade art is on.
Decorated with white leather chairs, locally made baskets and art, La Patisserie’s (facebook.com/lapatisserieuganda) setup fuses modern with a dash of traditional. The sound of small talk fills the air, along with the scent of baking pastries and freshly ground coffee brewing. La Patisserie has a signature blend that contains both arabica and robusta coffee, but a local cup is not the only drawcard here: the Belgian-inspired pastries and the Italian gelato are also good choices. The most popular gelato flavour? Coffee, of course.