Fed & Bougie Travels: Spotlight on Puzzle Coffee in Zanzibar
This is part two in a series about my travels to East and South Africa. For part one, go here.
It was nearly 90 degrees each day that we were in Zanzibar. In the sweltering heat, my husband complained frequently about needing a cold drink to cool down with. One day, as we headed back to our hotel after an afternoon of walking around Stone Town, he came across a coffee shop right next door to our hotel.
Puzzle Coffee Shop became one of our favorite local businesses in Stone Town. It’s a specialty coffee shop (with coffee from the plantations of northern Tanzania) that also has smoothies, refreshing drinks, and pastries like brownies and lemon cake. My husband became a fan of their lavender soda. The atmosphere was so welcoming, and set up to be a co-working space with a couple of couches, board games, and books. The friendly staff added a special touch to Puzzle. It didn’t take them long to recognize us each time we came into the shop - probably because we went for three days in a row (lol).
I got a chance to meet Puzzle’s co-owner, Leonardo, a Brazilian man who is an engineer by trade. He started the business with his wife, who is responsible for all the pastries that Puzzle sells. She tries to make everything fresh, every day. He shared with me that Puzzle came from their dream to have a business, but they weren’t sure which kind of business and where.
“But the purpose to have the business is to help people,” he told me.
Leo says he and his wife settled on the idea of a coffee shop after living in South Africa and enjoying the coffee shops there. A coffee shop also worked for their idea of “having a place and making connections.”
“We’re Brazilian – we love our coffee. And my wife loves to cook, so let’s try to combine,” Leo said. “The name came up because of the journey, [of] having been to many places and doing a lot of things.”
I loved hearing about how the couple have moved around the world together. Besides South Africa, Leo and his wife have lived in the U.S., Uganda, and South Sudan, with lots of traveling in between.
He tells me that it was God that led him to Tanzania first to visit. Then, once he made his way to Zanzibar, he decided it was the home for the coffee shop. “I felt like ‘yes, it’s a nice place. A lot of people, expats, tourists, the Muslim community…very different from the mainland.”
Puzzle was designed with “a lot of small things to create a really nice environment” and to “try to have the best coffee ever,” Leo says, but “it’s also about helping the economy. To create jobs and training for people.”
Each day that my husband and I went to the coffee shop, we didn’t feel like tourists. It was as if we were at home, going to check out our favorite coffee shop next door. It’s what made Puzzle such a memorable experience for us. If you have chance to visit Zanzibar, and you’re in Stone Town, make a stop at Puzzle Coffee. It will definitely be a highlight of your trip.
Have you found a local business during your travels that left a great impression? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!