Food & Drinks

Coffee, bagel served on solid ethos

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Roasted coffee beans. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Almost every other day I have driven outside the cafe since it opened and seen its clientele shoot through the roof.
  • People on dates. People with their dogs. People in meetings.
  • People doing what Nairobi’s middle-class do best; pose and look bourgeois.

The first time they opened this small charming coffee house on Lenana Road I asked Mwenda, the proprietor, what his plans were and he said “to sell coffee and bagels.” Indeed, there was nothing else on the menu but coffee and bagels. I thought to myself, well, that won’t work, he’s Kenyan, he will get greedy and start selling other things like fruit salad.

Almost every other day I have driven outside the cafe since it opened and seen its clientele shoot through the roof. People on dates. People with their dogs. People in meetings. People doing what Nairobi’s middle-class do best; pose and look bourgeois. I thought, aha, he must have added things on that menu.

This week I met a former Managing Editor of this newspaper there for coffee and a chat. I’m writing a book that I’m stuck on and he has written several. I needed advice on how to get out of that rut. Mwenda came over to say hello and I said, “I see you haven’t added anything else on your menu!” He said, “no, that wasn’t the original plan, remember. But we have added irish coffees and more assortment of bagels. But that’s it.”

He then told us about the ethos on which he built the place using his own hands, wood by wood, a long-term dream in the making. “Do what you set out to do and do it best.” He said: “I know a family in Europe that has only made hats and done it for a century. Just hats!” He told us about integrity, being content with your journey. “This place is only 60% done,” he said. “I still have work to do.” It looked great to us but then he’s the custodian of this dream that started in Meru where he grew up on a farm. “The farm teaches you to endure. To do things right. Not to cut corners.” We loved him.