Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Maldives

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Moving to a new country can be an exciting and daunting experience, and adapting to new surroundings can often pose challenges. Being an expat in the Maldives, there are few cultural norms to observe before being greeted with a friendly "Assalamu Alaykum". One of these norms is understanding and appreciating coffee culture, an essential aspect of Maldivian society that blends tradition with modernity. This article aims to provide expats with a guide to the Maldives' coffee scene, helping them to navigate the coffee culture and integrate fully into Maldivian life.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee is not a local crop in Maldives; however, it is a beverage deeply rooted in Maldivian culture. Maldives imports Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from South India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, primarily due to the country's tropical climate being not conducive to cultivating coffee. These imported beans deliver a rich, full-bodied flavor that is a staple in Maldivian coffee culture.

When buying coffee in Maldives, look out for two distinct types: Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Arabica coffee is known for its smooth aroma, complex flavor profile, and often a higher price tag. Robusta coffee, on the other hand, is more robust and less expensive. While the importation of coffee beans ensures that Maldivians can enjoy a diverse range of blends, it is also an opportunity for expats to explore the coffee plantations and farms in South India and Sri Lanka, providing a unique insight into coffee cultivation and production.

Embracing Favorite Coffee-Style Drinks

Cafes and restaurants across the Maldives offer a wide range of coffee-style drinks, including traditional brews, specialty blends, and popular coffee beverages unique to the region. Below we have suggested a few coffee styles favored by Maldivians for your consideration


Kahwa is a traditional brewed using cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper, providing an aromatic and spiced flavor that has become an integral part of Maldivian coffee culture.

Coffee with condensed milk

This coffee style is favored in Maldives due to its sweet taste, thick texture, and affordability. The combination of coffee and condensed milk provides the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness that is popular amongst the locals.

Latte, cappuccino, and espresso

Western-style coffee varieties such as latte, cappuccino, and espresso have gained immense popularity over the years, attracting people who prefer the bold, robust taste of coffee. Caffe Mia, an Italian-style chain, is popular amongst the expats for its quality coffee and cozy atmosphere.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is a crucial part of daily life and social interactions in Maldives. Besides being a drink enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, coffee plays a significant cultural role, especially during social events and get-togethers.

Whether with friends, family, clients or colleagues, one of Maldivians' traditions is to share a cup of coffee, starting with 'Dhivehi Kakanakan Niyathee Koombu' (first cup for starting a conversation). Another tradition to be aware of is 'Nahani Bajeethu Koombu' (second cup for carrying on with the discussion). It is customary to consume the coffee from the same side of the cup each time you receive it, signifying a willingness to return for further conversation.

Expats can embrace these traditions by engaging in similar activities, enjoying coffee with their colleagues during office hours and partnering with locals for business deals over coffee to foster meaningful connections. Some popular coffee spots for expats living in Maldives include The Coffee Club, Elements, Cafebond, Cafeteria, and Hulhulé Café.


Embracing coffee culture in Maldives offers a unique opportunity for expats to engage with the local community, promote cultural exchange, and enhance their overall experience living overseas. Coffee is a universal language that transcends borders and fosters connections amongst expats and locals alike. We hope this guide has provided you with a comprehensive insight into Maldives' coffee culture, helping you appreciate the traditional blends, embrace local customs and traditions, and enjoy the vibrant coffee scene that Maldives has to offer.