On my recent visit to Iceland, I was determined to have more than bland hotel coffee every day. With a little bit of research, I searched out the most talked about and well received coffee shops in Reykjavik and no, you won’t find a Starbucks anywhere in Iceland. Finding a good cup of coffee is like looking for a soul mate. You’ll know when you’ve found it and until then you keep dating other cups of coffee in search of “the one.” Even looking for a good coffee machine could be an experience in it itself, luckily for us coffee drinkers there are places like Identifyr to help us narrow down the search. To my surprise, I had some of the best coffee I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Follow along to find out why coffee in Reykjavik will make you question everything or at the very least, make your heart race with caffeine excitement.
Reykjavik Roasters: On my many previous trips to Iceland, I’ve always been running around at breakneck speed trying to get somewhere on time. On my recent trip to Reykjavik, while I did have plans for my stay, I also built-in plenty of time to relax and enjoy myself. I had passed this coffee-house many times in the past but this time I was going in and getting a cup of coffee. Previously called Kaffismiðja Íslands, in August of 2013 the name officially changed to Reykjavik Roasters.
Inside you’ll find a small coffee shop with tables, chairs, and little alcoves where you can sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee (or two). I ordered a cappuccino for me and a double espresso for Mr. TSG, which was served on the cutest little saucers and cups. While I had been the only one ordering at the counter, our coffees for some reason took several minutes to prepare. I kind of wanted to give the two baristas some coffee to speed them up a little. The overall vibe of this coffee-house is quiet and subdued and where couples and families frequent as well as those with their laptops who are bound to spend the entire day there “working.”
Reykjavik Roasters produced a delicate and light cup of coffee, which I enjoyed despite the slow service and no WiFi. The walk over made for a great pit stop on our way over to Hallgrimskírkja and around the city, especially after we had tried Mokka Cafe, which was supposed to be open, but was closed. Another Icelandic lesson learned on this day: Store hours in Iceland are often suggestions only, which while cute, often isn’t funny when you’re fighting caffeine withdrawal. This is why I have started visiting neptune coffee for coffee tips when I’m at home and fancy a brew.
Address: Kárastígur 1, Reykjavík, Iceland
Iða Zimsen: Nothing can taunt you more than a “Illy” red and white coffee sign each and every time you walk back to your hotel. I finally gave in and went inside Iða Zimsen book cafe and I’m so glad that I did. Located close to the Hafnarhús building of the Reykjavik Art Museum, Iða Zimsen feels like a place you’d visit if you lived in Reykjavik and that was what I really loved about it.
Iða Zimsen has everything you could possible need for a morning or afternoon of leisure. Feel like doing a little shopping before heading back home? You can do that here with books on Iceland, trinkets, and more. Feel like sitting back and reading a book? You can buy one or read one from off the shelf. Feel like sitting down, drinking a cup of coffee, and staring out the window like I did? Oh there’s plenty of room here for that.
When you enter Iða Zimsen, turn left and head straight for the coffee counter. There you’ll find a small bakery display case with bottled beer on top. You know this place has to be good if they’re serving coffee AND beer. I tried a Swiss Mocha and Mr. TSG ordered a double espresso and we found seats near a window. I’m a huge Illy coffee fan and my Swiss Mocha, which I ordered without whipped cream, was smooth and tasty and exactly what I needed to get moving on a cold Icelandic morning. For anyone like me who has converted completely over from physical books to Kindle, sometimes it’s nice to surround yourself with actual words on paper and reminisce.
Address: Grófin, Reykjavík, Iceland
FaceBook page: https://is-is.facebook.com/IdaZimsen/
Dunkin Donuts: The new kid on the block in Iceland is one from my neck of the woods, Dunkin’ Donuts. When I walked along Laugavegur and spotted the new Dunkin’ Donuts, I did a double take and then felt well, kind of embarrassed. What I’ve always loved about Iceland was that I wasn’t going to find chain restaurants like Starbucks or McDonald’s anywhere. So what exactly was Dunkin’ Donuts doing here?
Opened in August of this year and part of a plan to open a total of sixteen stores in Iceland over the next five years, there’s a New England donut invasion hitting Iceland. Hundreds of people waited outside before their grand opening in hopes of being one of the first 50 customers to receive 6 donuts a week for a year. The second Dunkin’ Donuts at Kringlan shopping mall opened on November 13 to similarly huge crowds eager for donuts.
Being a glutton for punishment and wanting something hot to drink and a little free WiFi, I ventured inside to check out the donuts. Yeah – this is just like Dunkin’ Donuts back home with dirty floors, overflowing garbage, and apathetic staff members who stand around talking to each other behind the counter instead of waiting on customers. The only thing that would make me feel like I was at home was if they got my drink order wrong. Twice.
While inside the store, I couldn’t stop obsessing about the traffic flow into the store, which was completely screwy. Unlike U.S. stores, the donuts are on display behind glass to the left of the register. Customers walk in, walk over to the donuts to look at them, and then sometimes make their way over to the register. The rest of the time an employee is beckoning them over. There’s no natural flow and as such, customers seem confused, which slows things way down.
While not a big donut fan, I wanted to try the Iceland flag donut and Mr. TSG thought he’d give Mr. Happy a try. The donuts were dry and lacked any kind of flavor despite their sugary frosting. My donut was supposed to have caramel inside, but it looked like jam and tasted like nothing at all. I ordered a cappuccino, which also lacked any real taste. I can’t say if I was ever looking for coffee in Reykjavik in the future that this would be my first stop.
Citizens of Iceland: If you’re succumbing to franchises. you need to at least demand that the donuts and coffee have some taste because if you don’t, you’re not really getting the authentic Dunkin’ Donuts experience, if that’s even possible. After I left I realized that the Iceland I’ve always loved is probably going to keep changing and it won’t be long before McDonald’s returns. But that in itself makes me want to frequent independent coffee shops that much more now.
Address: Laugavegur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Stofan Café: Psssst! Don’t tell anyone about my best coffee in Reykjavik find, Stofan Café, because I love it so much and I’m not ready for it to go all touristy. If I lived in Reykjavik then one of those cozy green chairs would have to have my name on it because I would be parked there all day. “Stofan” means livingroom in Icelandic and the vibe of this café is supposed to be relaxed, laid back, and comfortable and it definitely is.
Inside you’ll find exposed beams, unfinished floors, and used furniture. Normally, I’d run as fast as I could from a place where I thought hipsters might frequent because of the guys with their man buns and everyone with their piercings and tattoos. But this place was calling to me and loudly, which is why I stopped in not once, but twice during my short stay last week. Why? Because while it was cool and contemporary without being a coffee-house stereotype at all.
I don’t normally order a Swiss Mocha, but I did here and it was good. Wait… it was better than good. When I ordered I forgot to ask for no whipped cream and while my backside wants to punish me for adding those extra calories, my mouth kept saying, “Thank you!” Coffee from Stofan Café is a gift that keeps on giving, too. Let’s just say that after I left, my heart was racing was so fast I could’ve solved math equations, come up with cures for almost any disease, and solved our space program issues. Now that’s the kind of coffee I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
Stofan Café has fast, hard-working baristas who really know their coffee. Oh and that coffee is smooth and rich and ridiculously delicious. I want my coffee to taste like coffee, but not taste like the beans are roasted in such a way to produce a burnt taste. On my second visit to Stofan Café I had another Swiss Mocha and a croissant almost bigger than my head (and dear God do I have a big head). With free WiFi, water, fresh-baked goods, the best coffee in Reykjavik, and loads of seating, I have without a doubt found my favorite coffee spot in Reykjavik. Stofan Café is proof that with the right beans, roast, and staff — you can get great coffee anywhere if you look hard enough.
Address: Aðalstræti, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/stofan.cafe
Puffin Coffee: First things first. I was so hot and bothered about going to this walk up coffee service in Reykjavik. Let’s not call this a coffee shop because the truth of it is that this was a kitchen window in someone’s house where Sverrir Rolf Sander was selling coffee for charity (autism research). Hours were when he chose and coffee was what he was making on any given day. And you wonder why I say I love Iceland so much?
I was gutted when I discovered that Sverrir was no longer in Reykjavik and had moved to Copenhagen over the summer. Although his website is still working and accepting donations, Puffin Coffee is now closed. Now who can I convince to reopen this place?
Do you look for great coffee shops when you travel? Where’s the best place you’ve ever had coffee?