Best coffee in Iceland


Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting some of the coffee highlights from my travels through Scandinavia (and Germany), including cafe suggestions for when you find yourself in any of the same places.

My first stop was Iceland, and apart from arriving in the most beautiful airport I’ve seen (it resembles a modern art museum more than a travel hub) I was most excited to see an airport cafe (a Kaffitár) at 6am with a La Marzocco espresso machine. No automatic crap here! I had a nice double shot to start my day before heading into downtown Reykjavik to visit, what I was told, is the best coffee shop in Iceland, Kaffismiðja.

Kaffismiðja is owned by Sonja Björk Einarsdóttir Grant, a international barista judge, and Ingibjörg Jóna Sigurðardóttir, an Icelandic National Barista Champ and two time participant in the World Barista Championships. Both owners talent as baristas evolved while working at Kaffitár which has a number of locations around the country, including two in the airport where I first arrived.

The atmosphere is extremely casual, like a good friends living room, but adorned with the many awards from barista competitions from around the world. The center piece of the cafe is hard to miss, once you leave the bar you’re confronted with a hot pink Geisen roaster. It doesn’t really match anything else in the environment, but somehow ties everything together. They roast just a small selection of  coffee, but what they offer is quality, including two beans from Colombia that have been in the Cup of Excellence finals multiple times. I got a bag of the Colombia Bella Vista, which is the first coffee that Kaffismiðja has begun importing themselves directly from the farm.

The shots were well pulled and the milk art was beautiful. The cafe is located in the heart of the city, just a block north Hallgrimskirkja (the highest building in the city) so if you ever visit, you shouldn’t have trouble finding it. An Architect friend of mine also just finished an installation in front of the cafe. From most angles it looks like an array of random, geometric wooden benches, but if you find the green square on the sidewalk, it spells “torg” meaning “market square” in most Scandinavian languages.

Any one of the Kaffitár locations will also provide you with good coffee. It may be a chain, but a small one run by talented baristas. So you shouldn’t have much trouble finding somewhere to get a quality cup in Iceland (unless you’re hiking on a volcanic glacier or something of that sort).

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  • Reply Jason Coffee 09/25/2010 at 9:24 am

    I am in total SHOCK! A coffee shop with great espresso and a roaster in an airport? WOW I will this was a more regular occurrence. Great pictures as always! I love the pink roaster with the barista working away in the background.

    • Reply bwj 09/26/2010 at 7:27 pm

      The roaster wasn’t in the airport, different shop, but surprisingly great espresso, yes.

  • Reply Carolyn 10/01/2010 at 11:43 am

    Oh, I miss Icelandic coffee! I’ve bookmarked your blog so I can hear about great coffee in Copenhagen, as it’s eluded me thus far…

  • Reply Alex Ose 01/03/2011 at 7:54 am

    I went to Kaffismiðja on your recommendation. Very glad I did! For a country of 300,000, there sure are a lot of talented Baristas here…

    • Reply bwj 01/03/2011 at 1:06 pm

      Glad you made it there! Such a great cafe. I definitely fell in love with Iceland, and Kaffismiðja played a part.

  • Reply Simon 04/14/2011 at 9:40 pm

    Yep Kaffismidjan is great.
    A really ridiculous pedigree for both Sonja and Imma, but even more just a really nice place with a great love of coffee behind it – from the drink right through to the farmers who actually provide the beans at their source. I spend a good part of everyday here, or if not I’m drinking their coffee at home!
    For the person asking about Copenhagen, track down Coffee Collective. There are a few great coffee places in Copenhagen, but this is one of the top places anywhere full stop. Klaus Thomsen (I think thats his surname) 2005 WBChampion is one of the people running the place and doing an amazing job.

    • Reply bwj 04/14/2011 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks Simon! I’ve visited Coffee Collective as well, I wrote about it here. Fantastic shop!

  • Reply Julie B. 06/21/2011 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you so much for your information on great coffee. We are going to Iceland for the very first time in about 11 days and I am a coffee freak. I look forward to trying their coffee!

    • Reply bwj 06/27/2011 at 12:21 pm

      Iceland is incredible, enjoy your trip!

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