Milk Bars in Kigali

Milk Bars

I love Kigali! I love goin’ out! I love bars! I LOVE MILK BARS!

Hot milk bars are the greatest thing about Rwanda. They aren’t actually called ‘hot milk bars’ though, that’s just my term of endearment.  You’ll find these spots marked with a painting of a cow or the words: ‘AMATA MEZA’.

Honestly, I was never much of a milk drinker until I moved here, but there is something in the air that makes me crave a glass of milk.  The hills sing, the earth shouts, “Live off the land,” or, “Cows here,” or, “You are calcium deprived!” Cheese and ice cream aren’t in my budget but the milk fits the bill.

Upon moving to Kigali, I was exploring the neighborhood, looking for the perfect African tea.  In my part of town there’s an Amata spot on every corner, so in the meantime, I’ve discovered the joy of straight milk for Rwf 200 on average. Most places offer tea bags or cadbury chocolate powder (yep, hot chocolate) for an additional Rwf 100 each. Or just add sugar or honey for a free of charge sweet fix.

There’s nothing like a wholesome glass of milk in the morning. Often I don’t have food stocked at my house, but I 100% agree with the propaganda that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many spots have food – chapati, sweet cakes, those doughnut things, hard boiled eggs, bananas – each for no more than Rwf 100. It absolutely one-ups any Holiday Inn Express continental breakfast. Not that we have a Holiday Inn Express nearby… but you get the idea.

MilkA hot milk, banana, sweet cake, and egg covers all your bases and leaves you full and satisfied, ready for a big day on the town (that will probably involve waiting in a line, waiting for your Facebook page to load while you wait for that thing from work to appear in your inbox, waiting for… whatever).  It’s Kigali.  A good breakfast keeps you energized, on your A-game, and prevents fatigue (that 2:30 feeling) later in your day.

Umva, I know what you’re thinking – that I’m disgusting. I would probably think the same thing if I never explored milk bars. I totally get that hard boiled eggs and steamy milk sounds like a great way to start a disastrous day. Not necessarily. Maybe you do need an iron stomach for this one. Or maybe just skip the eggs if you’re a baby.  But I’m sure you’ve had worse, and in fact, your body needs these things.

How about the milk and banana combo? Two proven hangover super-foods. You couldn’t have come up with a better duo (besides maybe bottled water – easy – and dollar slice pizza – not so easy).

I suppose I should mention that originally I was expecting a glass of icy milk. They do serve cold stuff but I was horrified the first time I saw it poured slowly from a pitcher. I couldn’t believe people were flocking to these places to throw back a glass of heavy cream in the hot African sun. I bought a bottle of the cold stuff once because I had the day off and was being domestic. I needed butter, so decided to churn it myself but it wasn’t sourcing. Turns out it’s actually yogurt! To my dismay it only produced a small amount of butter, though I was relieved for the people drinking it. I still haven’t tried it. If you do, let me know how it is.

Anyway, give it a shot. It’s true we live in a literal land of milk and honey. Why not take advantage of it? Go do your body some good. Go forth, get fortified!

Written by Lia
Reared in the Pennsylvania wilds, I acquired a natural curiosity for the world around me. In early 2012, I packed my bags, bid farewell to the Shire, and returned to roll in the hills. A renaissance woman of mediocre ability, I'm continuously pursuing all sorts of projects and turning over rocks as I find them. I’m enjoying the journey and maintaining that every day is a good day. Email me at