Coffee culture is the collection of traditions and behaviours surrounding the consumption of coffee, which includes the social acceptance of caffeine as a stimulant. Many people cannot start the morning without a brew, and as such, cafes give these coffee lovers their fix of lattes, espressos, cappuccinos and the like. However, cafes offer more than just coffee. They offer spaces for work, meetings, socialization and even meals, as most serve light meals and pastries alongside coffee and tea. European and North American culture strongly influences trends in the Caribbean so it was just a matter of time before their café culture trickled down to us. Most Jamaicans start their morning with a hot beverage as inherited from our British colonizers. Thus, it isn’t surprising that coffee culture has caught on in Jamaica. We have the right audience for it.
Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, has caught on to the café trend and numerous cafes have sprung up in response over the past few years. In this post we explore Kingston’s emerging café scene and look at ten of the most popular cafes and coffeehouses in the capital city.
Note: Most photos are taken from the cafe’s Instagram page.
1. Brew’d Awakenings (📍130 Old Hope Road, next to Tastee’s) This small but convenient and cozy café is the closest to UWI, Jamaica’s largest university. During my final medical school exams last year, it became a safe haven where I could sit and study with a good cuppa Jo. The prices are very affordable too and I enjoy being able to get delicious breakfast food all day long. Great ambiance and coffee? There’s not much more I can ask for in a café.
2. Café Blue (📍1A Sovereign Plaza, also: Irish Town, Super Valu Centre Constant Spring Road) Easily my favourite café hands down, Café Blue is a local café chain serving only 100% Blue Mountain coffee supplied by its parent company Coffee Traders Limited. My favourite Café Blue location is nestled in Irish Town 30 minutes away from Papine, and delivers dreamy views of the majestic Blue Mountains. Drinking coffee while admiring the mist-covered slopes from which these beans are grown and harvested is an unforgettable experience I believe everyone should have at least once. Their corporate area locations will suffice on the days you don’t have time for a long drive.
3. Café Dolce (📍114 Constant Spring Road, Tile City) Another spot with breakfast food all day and reasonable prices, life is sweet at Café Dolce…. sweet enough for them to have opened a second branch at Kingston Industrial Garage, 381 Spanish Town Road. The hours of 7am to 5pm are more geared towards an office crowd, so feel free to spend lunch break here or grab your morning cup before work for the energy needed to kickstart your day.
Read next: Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival
4. Cannonball Café (📍Sovereign North, also: New Kingston, Lower Manor Park, Barbican Centre) Quite possibly the most upscale café on this list, Cannonball Cafe markets itself as your home away from home and I think we’d all be happy if our homes smelled like espresso. The Cannonball chain of cafes can double as your “home office” space, or a hang out spot to chill with friends after your 9-5. This café brews productivity and good vibes.
5. Danya’s Coffee Barrel (📍42-56 Harbour Street) Perhaps the only real café in Kingston proper and certainly the most recently opened on this list, Danya’s Coffee Barrel is an attractive space where you can enjoy a good cup of Jo in the heart of the Downtown business district. The lovely urban view of skyscrapers and the Kingston Harbour not too far in the distance adds to the cafe’s modern charm. Their prices are pretty reasonable, and their strawberry lemonade was an absolute delight on the hot dusty summer day I discovered the café, thanks to Vanessa from Pink Peachhh. Her recommendations always rock!
6. Island Coffees Café (📍Devon House) First up, the name alone tells me that this café brews nothing but feel-good island vibes and I’m here for it! Island Coffees Café sells their own luxurious brand Strawberry Hill dark roast coffee grown in the Blue Mountain range, and all their hot and cold coffee beverages are brewed from it. Thus, when you support this cafe, you support local. Head to Devon House and take a sip of some of the best coffee on the island.
7. Ragamuffin Cafe (📍74 Lady Musgrave Road) Calling all raggamuffins! From that bright Caribbean blue and single yellow triangular stripe facade, the Ragamuffin Café grabs the attention of artists and creatives. This non-judgemental space has grown quite trendy on the ‘Gram for the right reasons: a bright fresh aesthetic, good customer service, a great coffee listing, delicious meals and affordable prices.
8. Rituals Coffee House (📍Village Plaza) Starting the day with coffee should be one of your morning rituals. I was stunned to see Rituals Coffee House all over Port-of-Spain last year on a trip to the twin island republic, and learnt that this café is actually part of a regional chain which began in Trinidad and Tobago, then quickly spread to the Eastern Caribbean and eventually Jamaica. What sets this café apart are its weekly games nights on Fridays and the Creative Nighttime Rituals open mic event on last Fridays which gives aspiring talent and amateur singers a chance at the spotlight in a warm welcoming atmosphere.
Did you know Blue Mountain coffee can only be labelled as such once it’s grown in the Jamaican Blue Mountains between 3,000 and 5,500 feet above sea level?Source: Jamaica Coffee Industry Board (CIB)
9. Starbucks (📍New Kingston, also: Liguanea Plaza) It was only a matter of time before international companies eyed our growing coffee culture and decided to enter the market. The first such entrant is Starbucks, the world’s largest multinational chain of coffeehouses headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Their brand has been doing well in Jamaica, winning over hundreds of devout Jamaican coffee lovers. Their seasonal flavours are certainly something to look forward to, and my favourite so far is the Holiday Cinammon Latte. Enjoy a 15% discount starting tomorrow with Adventures from Elle‘s discount code: HOLIDAY15.
10. Toyota Jamaica Coffeehouse (📍93 Old Hope Road) It’s not everyday one finds a cafe in a car shop, but Toyota Jamaica makes it work! It’s one of those best kept secrets of uptown Jamaica. I don’t think I would’ve known it existed if a friend hadn’t told me about it. Anyway, the modern sleek decor of the Toyota Jamaica Coffeehouse brews productivity and with beautiful latte art like the one pictured below, I guess it keeps patrons coming back.
Did you already know all of these cafes? Which café are you hearing about for the first time, and which ones are your favourites? I’d love to hear from you. Also, did I miss out any of your go-to spots? Lastly, I can’t talk about coffee in Jamaica and not mention Deaf Can Coffee. Deaf Can Coffee is a gospel-rooted social enterprise seeking to empower Jamaica’s hearing-impaired community by teaching them barista skills which can allow them to earn a livelihood. They also have a coffee farm based in Manchester, and have been doing pretty well for themselves. You may find their workers throughout many of the coffeehouses listed above such as Danya’s Coffee Barrel, and at pop-up shops and expositions across the country. They’re always easy to find at events because they tend to have the biggest tent and the longest lines, and they make it pretty easy to communicate with them even without prior knowledge of sign language via large descriptive posters displayed by their station. Coffee culture has definitely taken off in Jamaica, and is here to stay. I’m all for it.
Note: If you’d like to hang out at a café and don’t drink coffee, fret not! They always have alternatives such as hot chocolate, teas and fresh juices. Not the same but, yum!
‘Til next time.