Jaws Corner – Coffee and Conversation the Zanzibar Way

By Mark Wiens 1 Comment

It can be compared to a confluence of two canyon rivers, a place where the water combines, uniting in the middle. Within the footpaths and Vespa lanes that maze through Stone Town, Zanzibar, is a courtyard where two lanes collide into an intersection, opening up into a small gathering space.

This unique square is a place where men gather in the early morning to socialize, strengthen their community, bond together and drink cups of black Zanzibar coffee. This simple place is known as Jaw’s Corner.



The coffee is served black, unsweetened and with a tinge of Zanzibari ginger in the water. On the small home made table in front of the coffee brewer, sit two plastic tubs, stocked with sugary treats.

Instead of adding sugar to the coffee, the philosophy is to rather alternate between a sip of black coffee and a nibble of the sweet peanut brittle, creating that irresistible medium.



Today I chatted with Rasheed, an elderly third generation Indian man. He wore khaki pants, a loose fitting button-up, and an Islamic knit hat. Rasheed has been an antiques dealer for years, hustling his goods and starting the day off at Jaw’s Corner, hoping for a successful day.

He introduced me to Muhammad, a smiling African fisherman perched on a concrete ledge near us. Muhammad works the ocean at night, sails his boat into town, and sells his catch before dawn. He chooses to wind down the early am at Jaws Corner, spending some time with friends and enjoying a brew before ending the day.


Sipping our coffee from small communal cups that get passed around from person to person, I notice a few men writing some news on a blackboard on one of the stone walls. “Someone in the community has died, we will go to his funeral,” Rasheed informs me.

These two contrasting men in their diverse fields of expertise might rarely have a chance to chit chat if it weren’t for Jaw’s Corner (or other similar places in Zanzibar). Yet because of the warm Zanzibari culture and the value of spending time as a community, Rasheed and Mohammad are able to share their daily stories.

How to Get to Jaws Corner

Located near St. Josephs Cathedral in the heart of Stone Town, get to the Cathedral and then ask someone to point you in the direction of Jaw’s Corner.

Be sure to check out all the best attractions in Zanzibar.