My Progressive Office In Nairobi

Where is your office when you don’t have an office? A coffeeshop. But where is your office when you don’t have an office and will not be a person who nurses 1 cup of tea in 1 coffeeshop all day? Many coffeeshops, aka, the progressive office. An itinerary in Nairobi: 

I spent lot of time in hot pursuit of free wifi during my semester abroad in Nairobi, Kenya. I didn’t have wifi in my apartment, and constantly purchasing minutes for my plug-in Safaricomm modem grew incredibly expensive. My semester-long research project required a lot of heavy internet use and thus, I became reliant on the smattering of cafes with free wifi in my neighborhood of Westlands. A typical weekend day looked something like this:

1. Begin your day at Java House on the ground floor of the Sarit Centre shopping mall (Parklands Road). Order the quiche of the day or the guacamole, cheese, and tomato sandwich if you happened to get a late start (each, $4, approx.). Sit in a booth for optimal outlet access, and leave a 50 cent tip (not culturally expected in Kenya) to show your appreciation for their tolerance of you. 

2. When you feel like you’ve overstayed your welcome at Java House (or when they shut off the wifi during lunch hours), walk to the other side of the mall to Dorman’s Cafe. Order a pastry ($1) and a passionfruit juice (50 cents) to keep the engine running.

3. Before it gets dark, walk down Ring Road to the much fanicer and newer Westgate Mall (Mwanzi Road) and settle into a table at Arte Caffe. Grab a tuna nicoise salad ($5) and chai tea ($1). Ignore the wine-swilling bon vivants lounging on the low chaises and maximize every minute’s worth of your allotted three hours of wifi time.

4. Before the place turns into more of a bar scene, take a cab home ($2.50) and consider it insurance against the unlikely but still very real danger of having your expensive laptop stolen if you walked.


Anna Chapin lives in New York City, where she spends her days handling other people’s money at a nonprofit.



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