Kigali Eats: J. Lynn’s (Café)

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Ever since moving to Kigali people have asked me “have you been to the African Bagel Company - ABC?” There’s a BAGEL company in Rwanda? Amazing! Yet somehow, in the last 15 months of living here, I never managed to go. So last weekend when I friend suggested it, I was happy to oblige.

What is J. Lynn's?

For those of you who don’t know J. Lynn’s - this is the place for homemade bagels, doughnuts, cookies, pumpkin cupcakes, chai tea, coffee and other exciting specialities. On the weekend, this is the hangout for families with young children, but there are many delightful places to sit and take in the sun, as their garden is beautiful. The Living in Kigali blog has done a great write-up of J. Lynn’s, with photos and a map, as it’s hard to find.

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J. Lynn's - a Vision to help Rwandese Women succeed

The vision of the cafe is “built on a dream for Rwandan women who are trapped in lives of subsistence -- women who are uneducated, unsupported, and who work long, difficult days just to get by. In my dream, these women have the opportunity to do more than just survive. They live joyfully, with hope for their future. They develop their talents, and deepen their relationships in order to transform their communities, and leave a legacy of courage and strength for their children.” J. Lynn’s provides training and business opportunities for Rwandese women, “inviting them into a community of mentorship and education.”

I had a delicious toasted wheat bagel with cream cheese (yes, real cream cheese!), avocado and tomato. It was such a nice treat, and the giant avocado tree which shaded us from the sun really made me connect with my food. Did you know that avocados in Rwanda grow everywhere, even on the sides of the street, and get as big as your hand? It's truly amazing - they are the creamiest avocados I've ever tasted.

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Saturday Farmers Market at J. Lynn's in Kigali

On the weekends, there is a delightful farmers market. It’s here you can buy buckets of fresh strawberries and gooseberries, which are notoriously hard to find in Kigali. To wash them, I’d suggest adding them to a bucket of lukewarm water, with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. This will disinfect them. Then rinse well again, and lay to dry. I usually buy a lot and then put them on oven trays in the freezer. Once frozen I put them into freezer bags/containers and use them whenever I need them.

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Promoting Local Companies and Co-ops in Rwanda

The market also has fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs, such as rhubarb, carrots, beets, kale, basil and thyme. I met a lovely woman representing a small co-op specialising in lemongrass, lemon verbena tea, and dried mushrooms from Kigali Farms. Rwanda Honey was also represented, selling locally produced Highlands honey, and homemade beeswax candles. Rwanda Honey is working to develop the honey trade as a viable supplement income for the bee farmers. Their main direction is sustainable beekeeping. I loved how they featured Rwanda's gorillas; I purchased a beautiful box of tealights. Love supporting local initiatives.

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Nyamirambo Women’s Centre

Also present are local Artisans selling arts and crafts, and Nyamirambo Women’s Centre - you can see my earlier write-up on the great work they do for the community. I love the clothing and accessories being sold lately. The prices are very reasonable, and the children’s clothes are adorable. All have their own signature mark - a cute embroidered heart, plus each purchase supports women in Rwanda. See some samples of their work below - so beautiful. Check them out for yourself!

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