If you drink coffee, you probably already know that Ethiopian coffee is perhaps the best in the world.
So one of the best activities to do in Addis Ababa is to search out the best coffee shops in the best coffee country in the world.
Not only will you want to drink as many cups of the goodness as possible while in Ethiopia, but it’s also a must to purchase coffee beans in Addis Ababa to bring back wherever you may be going.
In fact, I’m still sparingly nursing my Ethiopian coffee beans from my latest trip to Ethiopia – I’m drinking Harar coffee as I write this.
I drank a lot of coffee when I was in Ethiopia – I barely even slept – I was wired my entire trip, and I was able to sample some wonderful coffee.
So here are 5 different Addis Ababa coffee shops where you can not only get a winning cup of coffee, but at some of them you can also buy great coffee beans to bring home.
1. Tomoca (TO.MO.CA) Coffee
Tomoca coffee is the gold standard of Ethiopian coffee in Addis Ababa, everyone knows about them.
Though it’s written up in virtually every guidebook and piece of Addis writing you’ll come across, it’s for a good reason, and it’s a coffee shop you must visit if you love coffee.
It’s a very small, antique looking, coffee shop where the aroma of coffee will hit you before you enter.
There’s no seating, so you basically order a cup of coffee and either stand somewhere, or place your cup of coffee on one of the few stand-up coffee tables.
I ordered a macchiato (the Ethiopian style of a macchiato which became one of my standards), to which you can either request strong or medium.
I got the strong, of course.
It was one of the best cups of coffee I had.
Price – Macchiato is 10 ETB ($0.50).
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Price for beans – They sell only Harar coffee beans, 1/2 kilo is about 80 ETB ($4.07) after taxes
2. Mokarar (Harar Coffee)
In English the sign reads Mokarar, but in Amharic, it’s known as Harar Coffee shop – so if you take a taxi, most locals are only familiar with the latter name – this caused my taxi driver some serious confusion – so just remember to tell you taxi driver to go to Harar Coffee shop, which is directly across the street from the Soramba Hotel.
This friendly local coffee shop and coffee bean roaster in Addis Ababa is another local favorite.
They sell both fresh cups of coffee, and good quality roasted coffee beans.
Again, I ordered a macchiato, and it was rich, creamy, and sharp. I loved it. Plus the coffee bean filled tables were pretty cool too.
Price – My macchiato was just 6 ETF ($0.30)
Price for beans – For coffee beans, they sell a number of different choices including Harar and Sidamo. I bought a few kilos of Harar, packaged after ordering, for 140 ETB per kilo (comes to more like 150 ETB ($7.64) per kilo after tax).
3. Alem Bunna
Another local Addis Ababa coffee shop chain that is a favorite among many is Alem Bunna.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Alem Bunna until the final day that I was in Addis Ababa, and guess what?
They somehow didn’t have coffee the morning I went…!
That’s right, they said something like the coffee delivery truck got stuck or broke down, or something like that, and no coffee was available for the time being.
So I had to settle for a cup of tea, which by the way, Ethiopian tea is also quite good.
At some Alem Bunna locations, and if they have their act together, you can purchase beans or ground coffee – but sometimes it seems they are a little disorganized – like when I went and they didn’t have any coffee!!
You can purchase Alem Bunna coffee at the supermarket too, though I could only find ground coffee, not beans.
4. Kaldi’s Coffee
With a green circular sign, Kaldi’s is the local Ethiopian version of Starbucks.
It’s a huge chain spread throughout Addis Ababa and the shop is very modern designed and sort of the trendy coffee shop to go to.
It’s not exactly the local Ethiopian coffee shop experience, but I admit it can be convenient and comfortable.
Kaldi’s Coffee serves an array of modern international coffee drinks like cappuccino and mocha. They also sell cakes and pastries.
I had a cup of Americano, pretty decent, but for myself, it was not nearly as satisfying as the cups of local Ethiopian coffee mentioned above. But then again, Kaldi’s is more of a relaxing sit-down and get some work done, or have a meeting, kind of a coffee shop.
Price – Coffee is 10 – 15 ETF ($0.50 – $0.75)
I didn’t purchase any coffee beans at Kaldi’s, but my Father who has taken a few trips to Ethiopia, told me the beans weren’t very good.
So if I were you, I would stick to beans from either Tomoca or Mokarar.
5. Yeshi Buna
This restaurant is another Addis Ababa institution, with a number of branches spread throughout the city. They have quite a following, for the good quality food and drinks they serve.
Some people go just to eat, while others go just to relax and have a cup of traditional style Ethiopian coffee.
Since I was staying at Toronto Guest House, there was a Yeshi Buna restaurant right across the street, so I went there a few times to eat and have a coffee.
Street coffee and other restaurants
Finally, another delightful option for coffee shops in Addis Ababa are the infinite hole in the wall coffee shops.
In tiny little closet sized shops you’ll find vendors roasting, pounding, and brewing coffee in the traditional jebena clay coffee pot.
They serve coffee black, with sugar mixed in. The traditional type of Ethiopian coffee at street food stalls is incredibly delicious, and it’s always a fun experience.
Price – cups cost around 5 ETB ($0.25)
Also, at most restaurants you eat at in Addis Ababa, such as Kategna, you’ll be able to order either western style steam machine coffees or traditional coffees.
The best thing about drinking coffee in Ethiopia is that you’re never far from coffee.
Some countries I’ve visited, you wake up in the morning and worry a little about where you’re going to find a good cup of coffee (which is why I normally travel with my own coffee), but in Ethiopia, there’s no need to worry. Coffee is always right around the corner!
When it comes to the best coffee shops and where to buy coffee beans in Addis Ababa my top choices are both TO.MO.CA and Mokarar.
Enjoy, and please leave a comment if you know of other great coffee shops in Addis Ababa!
(I’ve plotted most of the coffee shops in this article on this map, just scroll through the list of things in Addis Ababa and click on one of the “coffee cup icons” for the location)