What better place is there to catch up with an old friend (whom you haven’t seen in more than 3 months) than a cosy coffee shop? Lava Cafe is a stylish little coffee bar, attractively located, set amidst lush greenery in the Musanze district of Ruhengeri. It is just right off the beaten track, but within a walkable distance from the town’s commercial centre.

The grounds boast a large garden and a partially-covered airy patio. The interior scenery has a very earthy and homely feel to it due to its dark brick walls, soft lighting, mellow background music, cushy sofas and wooden tables – essentially putting you in your comfort groove. The decor is very tasteful and inspired by African retro and ‘avant garde’ colours.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), we went at a very unusual time, so there weren’t many diners in the house – just us and a jolly old British couple. Barely had we settled down on the plush maroon futons than we had our menus brought. As we were caught up in old time memories, we took long to order but the waiter was very patient and offered to come back in ‘5 minutes’ at least twice.

But ultimately, our parched throats put a temporary halt on those stories and made us turn to those menus. The options on the menu were decently diverse, with a variety of coffees, cakes and small snacks. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have everything on the menu. My friend’s initial request for hot ginger-lemon-honey tea had to be cancelled since they did not have any ginger in stock. We then requested the waiter to suggest a couple more hot-drink options, for which he consulted the menu and recommended the Espresso in the house. We then placed our orders: A White Chocolate Kawacchino, an Espresso and a plate of French fries.

We found that Lava Café did not have wi-fi running that day so this deterred this American couple who had come particularly for that. They turned around, disappointed, and went to look for it elsewhere. Lava Café, however, boasts an impressive, elegant, and well-stocked bar. The café counter also displays a wide range of breads and cakes that cause your mouth to water just by eye contact (oh well, maybe again we were just very hungry then!).

Our orders soon arrived. The French Fries were incredible – crunchy, perfectly browned, impeccably salted and piping hot. They were accompanied by mayonnaise, chili sauce and a fresh salad dressing on the side. However, our coffees were just decent – slightly too watery for our liking, but I know some prefer their coffee that way so I guess it depends on your taste. Apart from that, it was made with freshly ground coffee, sugared just right and topped with liberal amounts of thick whipped cream – yum! The waiter kindly obliged to my friend’s request and generously added more whipped cream to her hot Espresso. The bill arrived once we had finished our fries and coffee. The prices at Lava Café range from modest to quite high, but not expensive.

I would rate this experience a respectable 3.8/5 due to the good food, quick service and great ambiance at Lava Café, but we were still a little disappointed due to the lack of wi-fi that day and the fact that not everything on the menu was available. Lava café is an excellent option for small get-togethers between long lost friends, semicasual office party and the like, as well as candle-lit date nights. I plan to go back the next time I stop over at Musanze, Ruhengeri.

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