Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Djibouti

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Djibouti, nestled in the Horn of Africa, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored by expatriates seeking an authentic cultural experience. And what better way to immerse yourself in the local community than by delving into its vibrant coffee culture?

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee is cultivated in Djibouti's mountainous regions, including the Bou Kenzo and Goda Mountain Ranges. Here, the ideal climate, altitude, and volcanic soils provide the perfect environment for growing exquisite Arabica beans. Only these locally sourced beans are used to create the signature aroma and flavors found in Djibouti's coffee.

Visitors can explore local farms and plantations for an immersive experience. Some farms even offer traditional coffee rituals for expats to learn and partake in. These experiences not only allow expats to connect with the local community but also provide opportunities to purchase freshly roasted beans to enjoy back home.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Djibouti is renowned for its diverse array of coffee style drinks, including traditional brews, specialty blends, and popular coffee beverages. A few favorites include:

  • Café Freux: A strong and aromatic coffee brewed using a traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, Jebena. Visitors can enjoy this signature coffee in local cafes or purchase Jebena pots to take home as a souvenir.
  • Qahwa: A sweet coffee beverage made by slowly simmering coffee grounds with fresh ginger, cardamom, and sugar. This aromatic blend is a staple in Djiboutian households and can be found in many local cafes.
  • Cappuccino Italiano: While imported varieties can be found in some areas, many locals prefer locally sourced Arabica beans for their cappuccinos. Expatriates can taste the difference in the quality and flavor at local cafes.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee plays a significant role in Djibouti's daily life and routines, providing a space for social interaction and relaxation. Here are a few customs and traditions that expats should be aware of:

  • Engaab xoon: A traditional coffee ceremony that involves roasting and grinding coffee beans by hand before brewing. This process is often accompanied by storytelling, singing, or dancing.
  • Saawaaxo: A popular social setting where coffee is enjoyed in the evening. Saawaaxo is often accompanied by traditional Somali coffee drinks like Qahwa and other cultural delights.
  • Xoboo: A traditional coffee break during work hours where employees gather to enjoy coffee and catch up on news and social events.

Embracing Your Coffee Experience

Whether you're a coffee enthusiast looking to explore local coffee culture or simply enjoy a good cup of coffee, Djibouti has everything you need. Remember to respect local customs and traditions, such as drinking coffee with the right hand and lowering your head slightly as a sign of respect when greeting someone with a cup of coffee. By embracing the coffee culture of Djibouti, expats can connect with the local community while enjoying the best coffee they've ever tasted.

Expat-Friendly Coffee Shops and Experiences

Djibouti is home to many coffee shops, cafes, and cultural experiences, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Cafe Culture: Located in the heart of the city, this trendy cafe offers a range of locally sourced coffee styles and artisanal pastries. It's a great spot for expats looking for a modern coffee experience.
  • Cafe Buchholz: This historic cafe has been a fixture in Djibouti City since the early 1900s. Visitors can enjoy traditional coffee drinks like Qahwa and Café Freux while soaking up the old-world charm of the cafe.
  • Cultural Coffee Experiences: Many farms and plantations offer traditional coffee experiences for expats, including Jebena and Engaab xoon ceremonies, and tours through coffee plantations.


Djibouti's coffee culture is a unique and integral part of its identity. By embracing the rich tapestry of coffee traditions and customs, expatriates can connect with the local community, broaden their cultural horizons, and enjoy the best coffee they've ever tasted.

We hope this guide has provided you with a thorough understanding of Djibouti's coffee culture and encouraged you to immerse yourself in its authentic experiences. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or simply enjoy a good cup of coffee, we welcome you to explore the coffee culture of Djibouti and embrace the vibrant traditions that make it so unique.