Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Benin

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Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Benin! Benin holds an exciting variety of coffee culture, from traditional brews to locally sourced beans. With this guide, we offer insights and tips for navigating the coffee scene in Benin. Whether you're looking to discover new coffee styles, explore local farming villages, or immerse yourself in coffee drinking customs and traditions, this guide has everything you need to fully appreciate the flavors and complexities of Beninese coffee.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Benin has a long-standing coffee culture, with coffee cultivated in the southern regions of Borgou, Atacora, and Colline. Locally grown coffee is known for its rich aroma and unique flavor profile, thanks to the specific climate and topography of the region. Emphasizing locally grown beans versus imported varieties helps preserve traditions and the local economy.

Expat Coffee is unique in that it's not very different from your typical coffee, but it has a more robust flavor due to the terroir of Benin. The coffee beans are mainly sourced from the southern regions of Borgou, Atacora, and Colline, where they are grown using traditional methods. These beans are often roasted on-site, giving them a distinct aroma that's characteristic of Beninese coffee.

If you're looking to explore coffee plantations and farms, we recommend visiting the villages of Glele and Djoudjou in Borgou or the Colline region near Cotonou, which is home to many coffee plantations.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Benin offers a unique array of coffee style drinks. Traditional brews include Café au Lait, Café Noir, and expresso-style coffee drinks like Café Perdu. Locals also enjoy traditional coffee beverages unique to the region, such as Café Bière, which is prepared by infusing beer with coffee.

One popular coffee drink in Benin is Café au Lait, a classic French coffee tradition. This drink consists of equal parts espresso and steamed milk, producing a creamy and delicious beverage that's perfect for savoring in the mornings.

Café Noir, on the other hand, is a traditional coffee drink that's commonly enjoyed throughout Benin. Prepared with black coffee, this drink is rich and robust, with a deep flavor that's perfect for those who prefer strong coffee.

Café Perdu is a medium roast coffee that's a favorite among coffee connoisseurs in Benin. This Arabica coffee is known for its smoky flavor, with hints of dark chocolate and nuts that make it a unique and delicious coffee drink.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee drinking customs and traditions are deeply ingrained in Beninese culture. The role of coffee in daily life and social interactions is significant, often serving as a means of hospitality and communication. Here are a few key customs to note:

In Benin, coffee is often enjoyed leisurely as a social activity, with friends and family coming together to sip on coffee and chat. It's considered impolite to rush through a coffee, and savoring the flavor is appreciated.

Coffee rituals are an integral part of the coffee drinking experience in Benin. In many cases, coffee cups are filled to the brim, and the last drops of the coffee are consumed like tea, known as le café à la louche, and this practice is usually accompanied by strong friendships, making it easy for even strangers to become acquainted over a cup of coffee.

Expat-Friendly Coffee Shops and Cultural Experiences

To help expats fully embrace Beninese coffee culture, we're sharing a few recommendations for expat-friendly coffee shops and cultural experiences:

Coffee & Co, located in Cotonou, is a popular coffee shop offering a wide variety of coffee styles, blends, and flavors. The shop prides itself on providing high-quality coffee while engaging with the local community. Here, you can experience traditional coffee brewing methods and learn more about Beninese coffee culture.

In addition, Café des Artisans in Cotonou and Cafe de la Renaissance in Porto-Novo are both great choices for expat-friendly coffee shops. These shops offer a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for relaxing, chatting, and savoring a cup of coffee.

In terms of cultural experiences, we recommend visiting the Atacora region, where you can hike through lush green mountains and enjoy coffee in the traditional village of Ganvié, where the people of the area brew coffee using traditional methods. Proceeds from your purchase could go back into helping the community with various cottage industries.


We hope our guide has given you a better understanding of coffee culture in Benin and has inspired you to fully embrace this vibrant and exciting culture. Remember, coffee is a universal language, and by embracing local customs, traditions, and flavors, you can connect with the local community and fully appreciate the unique flavors and aromas of Beninese coffee.

Beyond coffee, Benin offers a fascinating and rich cultural landscape, with traditional music, dance, and arts. Make sure to immerse yourself in Beninese culture and fully embrace everything it has to offer. Whether you're an expat or a traveler, Benin is a destination that will capture your heart and imagination!