In Summary
  • There were no hold-ups on Argwings Kodhek Road and all the way to Harambee Avenue, and so we arrived with an hour to spare.
  • We were not fancying a long wait in a cheerless office.

Jan and I had an eight o’clock morning meeting in town. It was last Tuesday.

When the taxi picked us up in Lavington, it was still dark. And it was still raining.

There were no hold-ups on Argwings Kodhek Road and all the way to Harambee Avenue, and so we arrived with an hour to spare.

We were not fancying a long wait in a cheerless office. “There must be a Java somewhere near,” I said. And in a couple of minutes we saw the sign, directing us down Parliament Lane and within a short walking distance to our meeting place.

The Java in Embassy House is a barn-like place, but there was a warmth in the reds and browns of the Java style. The chunky painted cityscapes on the walls give the room a refreshing life.

The waiter was welcoming. The coffees and croissants went down well. And the rain had almost stopped when it was time to take a walk.

FIRST PIECE

I wrote my first piece on a Java House not long after they opened in ABC Place, after the first one in Adams Arcade back in 1999.

As one of the two main founders, Kevin Ashley, has said, “It was just that we wanted a place in Nairobi where we could get coffee and breakfast.”

No doubt Kevin was influenced by the experience of living for a number of years in San Francisco, where there are plenty of good coffee places. From the one in Nairobi, Java House now has more than 60 restaurants and coffee shops across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

It is not so difficult to understand why Java House has been so successful. The menu is extensive, from small snacks to substantial meals; it has some unusual and tasty options too, such as the Tex-Mex specialities of burritos, fajita platters and quesadillas; the standard is consistent; the portions are generous; the prices are reasonable; the waiters are well-trained — and the coffee is very good.

They are places that appeal to East Africa’s fast-growing middle class.

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