Where to find proper coffee in Nigeria – part 1

17 Apr

If you’ve read the ‘about me‘ page or if you know me then you’ll understand why I just had to post an article about coffee. I promise I won’t bore you to death with nothing but coffee posts, I thought this might be particularly useful if you ever find yourself in Lasgidi (Lagos to the uninitiated) or Abuja in Nigeria. OK then, I’ll even add other details that make these places worth a visit. How does that sound?

Being the coffee nerd that I am, I have this annoying habit of seeking out places where I can get a decent mocha and if they can’t get it right I’ve been known to vault over the counter and show them how it’s done. I haven’t been barred from any establishments yet fingers crossed.

Arabica, Ikeja, Lagos.

I love this place because it really is a nice cosy (wrong word to use in a hot climate) place, a sort of cocoon from the hustle and bustle of the little shopping centre it’s located in. There’s an attempt to give it a Moroccan atmosphere with terra cotta colours, carved screens and low seats. This is a little at odds with the old school tunes (no, really old school; I am not talking Soul2Soul, I’m talking Skyy) softly emanating from speakers with chameleon-like tendencies. On my first visit, Moji the owner was in, so when the girls behind the counter were exchanging puzzled looks after I ordered a mocha she was thrilled to hear I knew a thing or two about coffee and asked if I would share. Long story short, before I left I’d given a few lessons in latte art and how to make the ideal mocha.

Foreign newspapers are delivered daily (foreign if you’re resident in Nigeria), I’m guessing she knows someone who works for an airline. So for a reasonable 650 naira you can have a coffee and read the Guardian or the Daily Mail (no-one will judge you). Arabica’s speciality is the club sandwich and the home made gateaux.

Arabica is above Barcelos at 66 Isaac John Street, Ikeja.

Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

the bar at Southern SunThis was my office for most of the time I was in Lagos and if it’s good enough for David Cameron who am I to complain? The mezzanine floor is the best place to hang out and although the serving staff do tend to last as long as the average Starbucks barista, the coffee is the real deal. Slightly pricier at 2500 naira, but to be fair you get a bowl of olives or nuts thrown in and wifi (gold dust for a freelancer in Lagos). The espresso machine is button pushing stylee so no real skills are needed but the bean is good. Again, I did have to explain the concept of the mocha to the serving staff but I feel I am doing my bit for mocha drinkers everywhere. It’s also a great place to network with professionals especially expats from South Africa, US and the UK.

If it’s a bite to eat you’re after the shawarma fills a hole, or if you really want to splash out try the steak.

Southern Sun is at 47 Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Chocolat Royale, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The balcony at Chocolat Royale

The balcony at Chocolat Royale

I visited this joint back in 2005 with an old classmate from Obafemi Awolowo University, back when I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist. We’d been to Silverbird to watch a movie and the idea was to find someplace to have a coffee at the ungodly hour of 11pm (this is Lagos we’re talking about). Chocolat Royale is a 24 hour operation where you can get great pastries, cream cakes and sandwiches plus of course, coffee.

We rolled up and as this was my pre-mocha period, I ordered a cappuccino. “Sorry sir but the machine is not working” well actually what he really said was “Sorry sah but de mashin is not working”. Not a good start so I asked what the matter was, I had been without coffee for a week and I wasn’t going to drive all the way over here and leave without a decent explanation. ” I can make espresso but the milik is not working.” Yeah, I’m as puzzled as you are right now. I asked him to show me what he meant as I couldn’t quite understand how he could get espresso out of the machine if the steamer wasn’t working, especially as they both depended on the pressure in the boiler. “When I opin de milik, is making funny noise” at which point he raised the lever and sure enough steam burst forth. “You see?”

If he didn’t have such a serious look on his face complete with furrowed brow I probably would have laughed my head off but I was more relieved than anything that the machine was working. I explained that it was actually fine and the noise of steam coming through the nozzle was perfectly normal. After some hesitation, he did allow me to demonstrate so once I’d made our coffees he was convinced and I got my discount. I call that a win.

Chocolat Royale has since become a major operation with industrial ovens and trays of Pain au Chocolat, Croissants and other sweet and savoury pastries. The upper floor has an air conditioned restaurant accessible via an impressive glass staircase, and balcony seating which would be great if you didn’t have to fight off the flies. Industrial strength fans are provided to counter that, but you have to nail down your napkins to prevent them blowing away.

Chocolat Royale is on Etim Inyang Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos another branch should be open at the Palms Shopping Mall on the Lekki Pennisula.

This post is long enough as it is so we’ll pause here and in the next part, we’ll visit a few more places in Lagos and Abuja. If you’ve been to any of these places recently I’d welcome any comments and updates.



7 Responses to “Where to find proper coffee in Nigeria – part 1”

  1. Jay P April 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Chocolat Royale closes at 10pm

  2. Clara April 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I am not a coffee guru, but your experiences are funny good for discounts, ever tried consulting ( staff training in this field nja are charging an arm and leg for this)

    • cokefour April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Now there’s a thought. I did get a free coffee for my pains from Arabica but the reward was that the staff really were interested in learning.

      • kayitana December 23, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        That was a quit challenging experience in Lagos!! but now come and check on a new world cafe neo at dream plaza victoria island 7 Bishop aboyade cole street. is really a new world of coffee in Lagos Baristas are trained by the Barista Champion of Rwanda!!! i guarantee u!this is real and ready to spread coffee aromas in 9ja!!

  3. Victor Asuquo July 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Nigeria Organo Gold Coffee is now open!

    It all started with an extraordinary cup of coffee…

    Organo Gold began in 2008 in Richmond, B.C., Canada, in a small shop with only three employees. In just two short years, Organo Gold became one of the fastest growing Network Marketing companies in the world.

    Today, as a result of the hard work of our Independent Distributors and employees, Organo Gold is operating in over 35 countries. With an incredible line of products, an unmatched income opportunity and a dedicated leadership team, Organo Gold is on a mission to help people improve their lives by reaching new levels of wellness, prosperity and balance. Organo Gold’s strong foundation is built on the principles of Loyalty, Unity and Edification, and the aim of building one of creating the most admired company in the world.
    Try it today! http://www.nigeriaorganogold.com

  4. jaiye August 22, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    There is LitCaf, a starbucks styled coffee shop at First floor, E-Center, Sabo Yaba, Lagos. People read and work from there. Wifi is also served. 8am-10pm.


  1. Worth waiting for – Benugo’s mocha | Somewhere for my stuff - June 7, 2013

    […] why I get all emotional over a mocha, then you haven’t been following my other blog posts on coffee have you? Consider this  then: To make the perfect mocha you need to have the right ingredients, a […]

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