Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Nigeria

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Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee lovers rejoice! Nigeria might not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about coffee, but this West African nation has been producing high-quality coffee beans since the 19th century. In fact, coffee is increasingly becoming a popular beverage among Nigerians, and you're in luck if you're an expat living in Nigeria - you'll be able to enjoy locally grown coffee beans that rival those from neighboring Cameroon or even farther afield like Brazil or Colombia.

Coffee production in Nigeria is concentrated primarily in the southeastern region, particularly in states like Enugu, Anambra, and Ebonyi. Here, the hillsides are covered in lush, verdant forests where the ideal combination of rainfall, temperature, and soil composition make for the perfect conditions for coffee cultivation.

Local farmers grow a variety of coffee beans, including Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica. Arabica is the highest quality of coffee bean, and it's the main source of coffee production in Nigeria. Robusta is used primarily for flavored coffee blends and for espresso blends due to its hearty nature. Liberica, sometimes referred to locally as Liberico, is a novelty coffee bean favored for its smoky taste, which can be a welcome change from the usual bold, bittersweet flavors found in most coffee blends. If you're an expat interested in experiencing Nigeria's coffee culture, we encourage you to hit the road and explore the many coffee plantations and farms scattered throughout the region. You'll be treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of the coffee-growing process, from the careful tending of the coffee trees, to the harvesting, and the drying and roasting process that turns green coffee beans into the rich, aromatic brew we know and love.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Nigerians have their own unique take on coffee culture, with a variety of styles and brews to suit every preference. Here are just a few of the coffee culture favorites worth trying:

  • This traditional style of coffee is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in water, a literal interpretation of ‘coffee that is boiled.' The result is a thick, syrupy brew, reminiscent of caramel, with a strong, intense flavor. Nigerians often serve it in traditional clay cups, with the grounds settling at the bottom, giving it a unique texture.
  • This frothy beverage is a Nigerian twist on the original Greek Frappe coffee. It's made by beating instant coffee with water, sugar, and a little milk into a frothed frothy texture. It's a great option for summer, as it can be easily poured over ice.
  • This popular brew features equal parts coffee and steamed milk, with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. It's a smooth, creamy drink that is a favorite among expats who prefer a milder coffee experience.
  • This strong, rich brew is a staple in Nigerian cafes and coffee shops. Espresso has a distinctive flavor, thanks to the high pressure applied during the brewing process. It's a perfect choice for coffee aficionados who like their coffee strong and full-bodied.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee culture is more than just a drink, it's an integral part of Nigerian society, steeped in history and tradition.

  • Coffee is a symbol of hospitality in Nigerian culture. When a guest visits a Nigerian home or business, they're often greeted with a cup of coffee. This custom is a sign of respect for the guest, demonstrating the host’s generosity and kindness.
  • Coffee drinking is a social activity in Nigerian culture, not just a personal indulgence. Coffee shops and cafes are often packed with people chatting and catching up on life's events over a warm cup of coffee. Coffee culture is an opportunity to connect with others, foster meaningful relationships, and strengthen ties among communities.
  • Traditional Nigerian coffee brews are prepared with a variety of herbs and spices, thought to have medicinal properties. Coffee is often enjoyed as a beverage with health benefits, ranging from boosting energy levels, to alleviating headaches, to calming nerves.
  • Coffee culture is more than just a shared experience, it's also a form of social currency. In Nigerian coffee culture, it's not just about drinking coffee but about who you're drinking it with. It's an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and deepen relationships.

We encourage you to embrace Nigerian coffee culture and connect with the local community through shared experiences. Take the time to learn the coffee-making traditions unique to Nigeria, appreciate the cultural significance of coffee in Nigerian society, and enjoy the many diverse coffee styles available in Nigeria. Whether you're savoring a rich, aromatic coffee at a busy cafe or sitting with a guest in a Nigerian home, coffee culture is a universally recognized language that transcends borders and fosters connections between people from all walks of life.