Ever since I have met many digital nomads and freelancers from all walks of life to find out that we all agree on one thing: in spite of being liberating, freelancing can be a lonely path.
Working from your sofa and living in your PJs is cozy. But to stay sane, you need a frequent change of scenery in your freelance life. So, when I arrived in Kigali last month, I made it a priority to find the best cafés in Kigali for getting work done. With settings like these, you will be very excited about getting down to business.
- What: Café Bistro
- Where: KG 383 St. Kwetu Film Institute, Gacuriro
- Extra tip: Indoors space only, but well-lit and airy
- Great for: Team meetings and group projects
- Coffee: RWF 1,000 for regular filter coffee, up to RWF 4,000 for a Macchiato
BWOK is a sociable and open-to-all café — from students and professionals to couples and young parents. So, even though the atmosphere isn’t studious, BWOK is ideal for team meetings and group projects. The devoted staff delivers spotless customer service and is genuinely happy to make you feel at ease. The mismatched seats add to the interior aesthetics, but if you are planning to stay longer, choose the softer chairs over the colorful ones. The smooth sounds of jazz and soul music help with concentration while the delicious smell of freshly prepared waffles covered in chocolate has the opposite effect. Keep in mind that BWOK has a different menu depending on the time of day you will arrive. For example, the café opens at 8 AM, but baked goods are available from about 10 AM and the food menu, including a salad and asian-fusion buffet, for a limited time. Even though BWOK is in a highly residential area, it’s a favorite spot among those looking for a pleasant alternative to an office.
- What: Café
- Where: KG 5 Avenue, Kacyiru
- Extra tip: Drink from stainless steel straws to support sustainability
- Coffee from: RWF 2,000 to RWF 2,500 for Cappuccino
Inzora Café is hidden behind a ton of books, as it coexists with Ikirezi bookshop. The indoors space may be limited to a few tightly laid-out tables, but this is part of Inzora’s personality as a collaborative space. If you need some inspiration to complete your work, climb the steps (mind your head) to the rooftop garden and search for answers in the views of hilly Kigali. The double-chaise lounge is very tempting, but try to stay focused on completing your tasks. Even though the menu is short, all ingredients are seasonal and carefully selected. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6.30 PM to 8 PM, Inzora hosts Kinyarwanda classes with large groups of expats. So, it’s better to avoid these hours, as it gets busy and loud. On Fridays, Inzora adds alcoholic beverages to the menu, which may make your workday easier… or complicate things.
- What: Café & tapas bar
- Where: KG 573, Kacyiru
- Extra tip: The private sections in the garden for complete isolation
- Coffee from: RWF 2,000 for an Espresso to RWF 4,000 for the special date frappé
Open seven days a week, from early morning till late in the evening, Casa Keza doesn’t allow for excuses to not do your work. Let the lush garden transport you from Kigali’s urban fuzz to a unique natural setting, where you can spot birds (when you aren’t looking at your laptop). The colorful design and serene atmosphere, in combination with personnel that loves their job, will boost your working mood and creativity. Keep an eye on Casa Keza’s weekly or monthly events such as movie nights, Spanish classes, and live music, because they may affect your productivity. Casa Keza is sincerely considerate towards the needs of professionals. Enquire with the staff about the meeting room which sits up to eight people, and can be rented hourly.
- What: Mediterranean café
- Where: Kigali Public Library, KN 8 Ave, Kacyiru
- Extra tip: Pet-friendly for dog owners and animal lovers
- Coffee from: RWF 2,000 for an Espresso to RWF 3,900 for Latte and Mocha
With free Wi-Fi (if you are a member) and seats scattered over three floors, the Kigali Public Library is an excellent place to plug away at your to-do list. But climb to its rooftop, and a pleasant surprise awaits you in the name of Shokola. The sophisticated open-plan outdoors and indoors has the characteristics of a cultural co-working space, where you will feel that you can thrive in whatever you decide to work on. In case you lack the energy, try the ‘Up Beet’ smoothie to cheer you up. The staff’s continuous attention might be overwhelming at times, but it comes from the heart and they mean well. For more privacy and comfort, sit in the lounge area at the very back. If you are a bookworm and become a regular, you will be invited to borrow a book from Shokola’s independent collection.
- What: Café
- Where: Boulevard l’Umuganda, Kacyiru
- Extra tip: The Wi-Fi password changes throughout the week
- Coffee from: RWF 2,000
- Wi-Fi :
The pastel colors and leather chairs create a very business-oriented vibe, which considering Magda’s location opposite Kigali Heights doesn’t come as a surprise. Here you will be among many well-dressed professionals who are at Skype calls, one-to-one meetings or are hastily typing on their laptops. However, there’s a large space between one table from another, meaning that you get your privacy, and the noise from groups of people doesn’t reach you. The service is of impeccable character, and the staff is fully aware of the fact that Magda is also a working place. Therefore, the team’s presence is very discreet.