Icelanders, like most of the worlds population drink coffee, in fact we drink a lot of it!
The appeal of coffeehouses is twofold for most Icelanders, we want good coffee but more importantly, we want a nice place to drink our coffee. Below is a list, in no particular order, of the five best coffeehouses to visit while you are in town, enjoy!
Mokka is historically the most significant coffeehouse in the country. In 1958 Guðmundur Baldvinsson and Guðný Guðjónsdóttir opened their doors, serving the first espressos to a population who until then had only tasted brewed coffee. At the time Icelanders didn't really understand the concept of a coffeehouse and found it ridiculous and strange to pay so much for one cup of coffee. Soon, however, it became the place to be for artists, writers and philosophers looking for a good cup and a place to ponder and discuss ideas. Going to Mokka is like stepping back in time; today the place looks almost identical to the way it did when it opnened with its simple art deco style. The smell of coffee, chocolate and waffles that greet you when walking in are enough to make your mouth water, sometimes you can even smell it half way up Skólavörðustígur.
Another important stepping stone in the evolution of coffee culture in Iceland, Kaffitár, introduced high quality coffee which was ethically sourced and roasted in Iceland. The owner, Aðalheiður Héðinsdóttir was intrumental in kick starting the specialty coffee culture both through her own efforts and thanks to several baristas who were trained in Kaffitár and later on have become influential in the coffee world and opened their own coffeehouses in Reykjavík
. The coffee is well made, by Baristas who are friendly and well trained. There are also plenty of sandwhiches, breads, cakes and sweats to eat with your cup. This particular outpost of the Kaffitár chain is colorful and vibrant. This is a particularly popular place with many regulars and can sometimes be difficult to find a table, especially in the morning rush hour. Still though, there is plenty of seating in a comfortable open space that has large windows facing Bankastræti, a great place to people watch and plan your day.
Reykjavík Roasters / Kaffismiðja Íslands
Formerly known as Kaffismiðja Íslands, Reykjavík Roasters offers the highest quality specialty coffee in town. Since it opened in 2008 it has attracted legions of regulars who swear by the superiority of their coffee over others. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, a combination of raw and cozy permeates this small space filled with old chairs and tables, and the sounds of a record playing and coffee roasting.
The coffee is roasted on location and the coffee itself is bought directly from the farmers
, predominantly from Colombia, however recently they have introduced coffee from Nicaragua as well. Don't be afraid to try any of the alternatives to an espresso-based cup. The hand brewed coffee available is expertly made and you can choose between three different brewing methods, all of which bring out something unique from the coffee.
This adorable take-away-hole-in-the-wall was a welcome change to the coffeehouse flora of the city. The principle of its foundation was based on providing a product that is locally sourced and preferably organic as well. The friendly owner, David is often there baking his own creations from scratch, which include favorites like pasties filled with lamb and sweet potatoe or veggie sausage rolls which are heavenly. The coffee is always organic and always tasty.
The name Stofan literally means the living room. When walking into its warm atmosphere you will in fact find what looks like several living room spaces with plush couches and sitting chairs inviting you to stay and read a book, knit or have a good conversation with your friends and aquaintances. Like many coffeehouses in Iceland they offer Chaqwa which doesn't qualify as specialty coffee but tastes good none the less. There is a great assortment of teas to choose from, as well as home made cakes and other snacks. One thing that separates Stofan from the others on this list is the possibility of having a beer or any other alcoholic beverage. At night this cozy coffeehouse turns into a cozy bar with killer Irish coffee and a very good selection of local beers.
by Marissa Sigrún Pinal