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Best of Reykjavík: Coffee!

OK, this is a really hard one, because Reykjavík has so many excellent cafés, and almost all of them serve great coffee.

That said, and bearing in mind that these are totally subjective, here are my favorite places to get a good cup of coffee. Or at least those that pop into my mind first.

4. Súfistinn. The cafe upstairs in the IÐA bookstore, in Lækjargata. I like it primarily because of the view — it’s got huge big windows that overlook the Bernhoftstorfa [a row of old buildings that were saved from demolition a couple of decades ago, that include the restaurants Lækjarbrekka and Humarhúsið] and it’s really airy and bright. However, it’s been “discovered” since I first started going there, so it tends to get a little crowded.

3. Kaffitár in Borgartún. OK, all the Kaffitár cafés [Kaffitár is an Icelandic coffee manufacturer] serve really good coffee. However, I particularly like the Borgartún one because it’s got a fantastic patio out back that very few people know about. It faces south and is sheltered from wind, so on sunny days in summer it’s a great place to catch some rays.

2. Te og kaffi in Eymundsson, Austurstræti. I’d almost forgot about this one because I only recently discovered it. Te og kaffi is the other Icelandic coffee manufacturer that has its own set of cafes, and it also serves up consistently good coffee at all of their outlets. However, this place is so great because, like the one above, it has a wonderful patio where you can sit outside on sunny days. It’s got a really laid-back atmosphere and these surprisingly comfortable patio-furniture sofas that are great for hanging out. Bonus: if you’re there on Saturday afternoons in the summer you can listen to the live jazz being played in the Jómfrúin courtyard below.

1. Cafe Haiti. This was a little hole-in-the-wall place down by the harbour when it first started, and quickly gained a reputation for excellent coffee and lovely service [the woman who runs it is actually from Haiti]. She imports the coffee directly from there and it is addictive. They’ve recently moved to larger premises, in the refurbished tackle workshops down by the old harbour [near the Sea Baron and where the whale-watching tours leave from], so you no longer have to drink  your coffee standing up.

Incidentally, all of the bookshop cafés in Iceland allow you to take magazines from the racks and read them in the café, as long as you return them.

Over to you. Which ones are your favorites?

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  • Michael Lewis August 17, 2010, 3:11 pm

    That makes me think – what sort of life story brings you to Iceland from Haiti? There are, after all, lots of countries in-between. If I’m ever in the position of having to leave one place: Bora Bora, Tahiti, Cook Islands would be my first port of call… sorry, drifting off on a tangent. Not sure if you can get it in Iceland, but the very best coffee in the wold (many people would say) is: Jamaican Blue mountain. It is very expensive though.

  • Tómas August 17, 2010, 5:31 pm

    I hate to say it but I have to disagree with your #1 choice. The coffee there is roasted off the scale (and I prefer a dark roast) . This is a real shame because I loved the atmosphere and service. Haven’t been to the new place and probably won’t unless I hear the roaster has been tuned back a notch.

  • Chris, Reykjavik August 17, 2010, 5:33 pm

    Kaffi Mokka is also quite nice – especially when you like fresh waffles. And its one of the oldest cafes in Reykjavik.

  • Joerg August 17, 2010, 5:37 pm

    I could recommend Mosfellsbakarí on Háaleitisbraut. They offer an excellent choice of bread and cakes but also very good coffee, tea and chocolates. I have been there a couple of times for breakfast.

  • Benjamin Sternthal August 17, 2010, 6:55 pm

    Favorites are Kaffismiðja Íslands for the cozyness/record player and Kaffifélagið (across the street from Mokka) for having warm chocolate croissants in the morning.

  • Albert August 17, 2010, 7:24 pm

    In my opinion, Kaffismiðja Íslands has the best coffee downtown. Only a small number of tables, but freely shared. A record player in the corner, with the patrons playing DJ. Comfortable and friendly, one couldn’t ask for more. Only open til 5, and closed Sundays, but well worth the trip.

  • Kevin August 18, 2010, 2:31 am

    Babalu on Skolavordustigur has decent “special” coffee (cappucino, americano etc.) and pretty poor “standard” (American drip) coffee. But I love sitting there for hours, and often went with the free-refill standard drip coffee just to enjoy the cozy atmosphere and company.
    I used to love sipping americano coffee at Karamba before they closed, and the americano at Hemmi og Valdi is still something special. They heat the mugs so that you almost can’t pick them up with bare hands…. but mmmmm, delicious.

  • Luna_Sea August 18, 2010, 3:21 am

    I second Mokka for the waffles!
    ps- why can’t you get low fat milk for your coffee/latte anywhere?

  • Christian August 18, 2010, 11:40 am

    Been at Súfistinn (shouldn’t that be above Mál og Menning in Laugavegur instead of IÐA?) last week and might I add that their súkkulaðiterta is goddish.

  • sylvia hikins August 18, 2010, 12:07 pm

    You probably think this is tourist naff, but I really like the cafetieres of coffee in the Cafe Paris. It’s a great place to people watch as well.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Andy KJ August 18, 2010, 12:32 pm

    Got to say the coffee in Iceland was not that good in my 14 months and subsequent visits. But it is all personal taste anyway.

  • Karul - Toronto August 19, 2010, 1:46 am

    I remember Kaffitar quite fondly. I was at the IDA bookstore – trying to buy some Icelandic posters – but did not realize there was a cafe upstairs. And they did not have any posters!

    By the by, for Niceland lovers, did anyone notice this story about skyr in New York City?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2263801/

  • c August 20, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Kaffismiðja without doubt. It is second to none here in the 101’s.

  • Ian August 22, 2010, 12:49 am

    +1 for Babalu. Kozi. +1 for Eymundsson’s also, I was about just when their other store in central Reykjavik was moving from the uphill part of Laugarvegur to the place opposite the prison on the Hallgrimkirkja road that used to be a bank or such, last summer. It’s refreshing to be in a place that’ll let you read something from the shelf whilst you sip away.

    Akureyri has some great places to grab a cuppa also. I’m a fan of Blaa Kannan for some warming heitt sukkuladi.

    Kevin, has Karamba on Laugarvegur (just opposite Hemmi og Valdi’s I seem to remember) really closed down? Crazy! That place was always so packed and lively…

  • Maggie September 18, 2012, 6:07 pm

    I LOVE Tiu Dropar on Laugavegur. It’s delicious, small and strong (none of that HUGE coffee cup stuff for me) and they have excellent ponnukokur with cream and jam. Very cozy spot!