Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Rwanda

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Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Rwanda, our guide is tailored specifically for expats interested in immersing themselves in Rwanda's coffee traditions and customs. We understand that Rwanda is a unique and special country, with distinguished coffee culture that differs from the Western world. Therefore, we present to you this comprehensive guide that will enlighten and inform you about Rwanda's coffee scene.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Firstly, we would like to shed some light on where coffee is sourced in Rwanda. Coffee is a locally grown crop, which is grown in different regions around the country. If you're an expat new to Rwanda, making your way to Kivu Lake region, Burundi, and the Eastern Province, you are on the right path because you will encounter Rwanda's best coffee cultivation areas. It's essential to note that locally grown coffee is of higher quality than imported varieties because it is grown in environments with high altitudes and well-drained soils that are ideal conditions for coffee production.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Rwanda is renowned for its coffee, and it is not surprising that the country has a wide variety of coffee styles that will surely leave you intrigued. It's crucial to note that traditionally brewed coffee varieties in Rwanda include amakunzi, ikivugizo, and ishusho, while specialty blends and popular coffee beverages that are unique to the region include:

  • Katano: This coffee is categorized as a medium body coffee, with notes of green pepper, lemon, and a gentle hint of caffeine that leaves lingering smoky flavor.
  • Murongo: This coffee has a bright acidity, soft floral notes, and a full body flavor, which is robust enough to transport you to Rwanda's mountainous regions.
  • Kopi Luwak: Also identified as the cat peach coffee, it is a unique type of coffee produced in the region. This coffee is highly sought-after, and it is made by fermenting coffee cherries in the digestive tract of a wildcat. As the consequence, the coffee acquires an infamously smooth texture and nuttier flavor.
  • Amakunzi: This coffee is brewed using a unique traditional technique, where green coffee beans are roasted briefly over hot charcoal to produce a strong aroma, smokey flavor, and dark color.

When it comes to coffee styles, Rwanda's regionally-distinct brewsgenerate a multiplicity of flavors, so we highly recommend trying them out while you're here. Locals and expats worship these coffee styles, and they are beloved for a reason! From our experience, we advise you to begin by trying an amakunzi coffee, followed by Murongo and finally Kopi Luwak for an added Rwandan touch.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Beyond the coffee varieties, there's more to Rwanda's coffee culture than meets the eye; coffee is deeply embedded in the country's cultural fabric and has been embraced and appreciated for centuries. It's not just about savoring coffee but also being part of a rich cultural heritage filled with customs and traditions. We recommend that you explore these traditions to have a complete coffee experience in Rwanda. Here's a list of cultural experiences that will help you embrace and appreciate Rwanda's coffee culture:

  • Coffee Harvest: This is a festive and colorful cultural experience, where the community comes together to gather coffee cherries from the trees. Join in this community-led experience in the Kivu Lake region, and you will not regret it!
  • Coffee Roasting: Rwandan coffee cherries are left to dry before being roasted, and Rwandans traditionally roast coffee using charcoal stoves. Interact with locals, and you'll come to appreciate the distinct aroma that emanates from Rwanda's coffee roasting process.
  • Coffee Ceremonies: Coffee ceremonies are something that every coffee aficionado should witness. Rwandans dramatically prepare and serve coffee to guests using traditional techniques that will leave you in awe.

Mastering these traditional rituals will improve your coffee drinking experience in Rwanda. You will not only be able to savor coffee but also appreciate and celebrate Rwanda's unique coffee culture.

Expat-Friendly Coffee Shops, Cafes, and Cultural Spots

Besides the coffee plantations and farms, there are plenty of expat-friendly coffee spots scattered throughout Rwanda. From high-end cafes to authentic coffee houses, you're spoilt for choice! Below is a list of coffee shops and cultural spots you can explore:

  • Amahoro Coffee: Located in Kigali, Amahoro Coffee offers an array of beverages – from the classic espresso to the delicious fruitier varieties. Their coffee is locally sourced and made using Rwandan brewing methods.
  • Café Urugwiro: Known for its breathtaking view of the volcanoes, this high-end cafe offers coffee beverages of international standards, as well as Rwandan brewing standouts.
  • Heart of Africa: Also located in Kigali's heart, this coffee shop is an authentic cultural spot where you can learn about Rwandan coffee preparation techniques and history.
  • Cafeteria de la Paix: Located in Musanze, this traditional coffee house offers Rwandan coffee beverages, unmatched to any other, and an ambiance that will transport you to Rwanda's coffee plantations.


In conclusion, we challenge you to embrace Rwanda's coffee culture, because it's one-of-a-kind! You will not only have an immersive coffee experience but also appreciate Rwanda's unique cultural heritage. From coffee plantations and farms, categorized coffee styles, traditional rituals, and coffee ceremonies, Rwanda's coffee scene is fascinating and worth experiencing. As you immerse yourself in Rwanda's coffee culture, remember to promote tolerance and social cohesion – two guiding principles that are engraved in Rwandan society's values, which will ultimately complete your coffee experience.