Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to South Sudan

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Welcome, expatriates to the vibrant coffee scene in South Sudan! Whether you're a newly arrived expat or already settled in this stunning African country, there's no denying that coffee culture is woven deeply into the fabric of South Sudanese society. With our guide, you'll learn everything you need to know to fully embrace traditional coffee rituals, discover your perfect coffee style, and immerse yourself in South Sudan's unique coffee culture.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

To truly appreciate coffee culture in South Sudan, it pays to understand the origins and production of coffee beans in the region. While some imported varieties can be found in South Sudan, local beans reign supreme in the coffee scene here. Spanning from the lush mountain ranges of Jubek to the savannahs of Warrap, coffee plantations and farms are scattered throughout South Sudan. By exploring these regions, expats have the unique opportunity to see local farmers at work, and to learn about the specific climates and conditions necessary for high-quality coffee production in South Sudan.

Experiencing Local Coffee Production in South Sudan:

To really immerse yourself in South Sudan's coffee production scene, we recommend a visit to one of the country's many coffee estates, which can be found in places like Yei River State, Lakes State, and Warrap State. Some popular options include the Doria Coffee Estates in Raja, and the Kaya Coffee Plantation in Yei. Expat-friendly coffee shops and cafes like Nile Coffee and the Ministry of Coffee in Juba also offer opportunities to learn directly from local coffee experts who can provide insights into the unique conditions, techniques, and traditions of coffee production in South Sudan.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

South Sudan is famous for a wide variety of traditional and specialty coffee drinks that you won't find anywhere else in the world! From the sweet, syrupy Sufra, to the spicy, aromatic Sufrai, traditional coffee culture in South Sudan is a complex and delicious journey of discovery.

Traditional Coffee Drinks in South Sudan:

  • Sufra: This sweet, syrupy coffee drink is made by brewing roasted coffee beans with sugar and water, then serving it hot.
  • Sufrai: This traditional, spicy coffee blend is made by infusing coffee grounds with cinnamon, cardamom, and other aromatic spices.
  • Arabic Coffee: This strong, rich coffee is made by boiling finely-ground coffee beans with water, then pouring it slowly through a pot called an ibrik or a cezve. The coffee is traditionally served with dates and almonds.

In addition to traditional coffee drinks that have been perfected over centuries, many South Sudanese coffee shops and cafes are also serving up unique specialty blends that reflect the flavors, aromas, and tastes of local coffee farming communities. Some popular options to look out for include the Jabala Coffee chain, known for its medium-roasted beans with a clean earthy finish, and the Coffee Culture chain, which is famous for its rich, nutty Sufra Mocha blend.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee culture is more than just a love of great coffee; it's a deeply ingrained part of daily life and social traditions in South Sudan. Here, coffee serves as a powerful host for social gatherings and cultural events, reflecting values of hospitality, generosity, and connection.

Coffee Culture in South Sudan: Little Known Etiquette

  • Respect Coffee Purity: In South Sudan, coffee is often served alongside traditional foods like meat, bread, and nuts. However, it's considered impolite to place food in the same cup as coffee, as this contaminates the purity of the coffee experience.
  • Greetings and Token Gestures: When meeting someone for a cup of coffee, it's customary to greet them with a lively "Assalamu Alaikum" or "Good Morning". A small token gift such as dates or almonds is also given as a symbol of friendship and hospitality.
  • Pause for Respect: In South Sudan, a shared cup of coffee serves both as a symbol of friendship and a ceremony of respect. Pausing for a brief moment of silence before tasting the coffee is a traditional custom, allowing hosts and guests alike to show due reverence to the unique connection between coffee and culture.

In addition to these rituals, South Sudanese coffee culture is also evolving to embrace the growing popularity of international coffee trends. Many upscale cafes and coffeehouses in Juba and elsewhere now offer everything from lattes and cappuccinos to honey-lavender lattes and mocha mousse, alongside traditional brews like Sufra and Arabic Coffee.

Expat-Friendly Coffee Spots in South Sudan

If you're looking for some insider tips on where to get your fix of exceptional coffee in South Sudan, look no further than our list of expat-friendly coffee spots. Whether you're looking for a cozy café with free Wi-Fi, an upscale latte experience, or a casual spot to sip coffee with locals, there's something for every expat taste and preference in South Sudan.

Expat-Friendly Coffee Shops and Cafes in South Sudan:

  • Nile Coffee: Located in the Jebel Kujur neighborhood of Juba, this casual coffee spot offers a range of traditional and international coffee drinks, as well as free Wi-Fi and plenty of outdoor seating.
  • The Ministry of Coffee: This upscale coffeehouse, located in the heart of Juba's downtown area, offers exceptional barista skills, a wide range of espresso drinks, and a sleek, modern décor that's perfect for expats looking for a polished caffeine experience.
  • The Bean Bakery & Café: Tucked away in the Baba Diour area of Yei, this cozy café offers a delightful blend of South Sudanese hospitality and Western café culture, with a range of traditional and international coffee drinks, as well as homemade pastries and cakes.
  • Doria Cafe: Located in Raja, near the Doria Coffee Estates, this traditional coffeehouse offers farm-fresh coffee, traditional Sufra and Arabic Coffee, and a beautiful outdoor garden setting that's perfect for relaxation and immersion in South Sudan's unique coffee culture.

No matter where you choose to indulge your love of coffee in South Sudan, remember that the true joy of coffee culture is not just in the taste, but also in the connections - connections to the people, places, and traditions that have sustained South Sudan's rich coffee legacy for centuries.


As we've seen, coffee culture is a complex and deeply ingrained part of daily life in South Sudan, infusing the region's food, drink, and social traditions with rich flavor and cultural meaning. Whether you're a newly arrived expat, or an old hand at South Sudan's coffee scene, we hope that our guide has helped you to better appreciate the role of coffee culture in South Sudanese society, and that it's inspired you to explore the region's fantastic coffee scene more fully!