Specialty coffee is pervasive enough in Reykjavík that it’s relatively easy to find a good cup of coffee, but it’s not a very big deal here which means coffee alone is rarely a focus, experience is. The coffee may not have the same focus as specialty coffee in Melbourne, Portland or San Francisco, but I actually appreciated that good coffee was almost an adjunct to a good café experience.
Reykjavík Roasters’ original location opened in 2008 in Kárastígur in downtown Reykjavík – or Reykjavík 101 as they call it here – as Kaffismiðja Íslands before they went through renovations and a name change in 2013. The original location remains popular, and it’s where they still roast their beans.
During my visit I lived in Hlemmur, Reykjavík 105. A short walk away on Brautarholt was Reykjavík Roasters’ second location, originally opened in the summer of 2015. Much larger than the original space, it became my second home where I’d spend a lot of time reading and working. A cortado is 550 ISK (a little over $5) and a chocolate croissant is 500 ISK (a little over $4.5).
Reykjavík Roasters’ original location in Kárastígur is at Kárastígur 1, Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík Roasters’ Hlemmur location is at Reykjavik Roasters, Brautarholt 2, Brautarholt, Reykjavík, Iceland
Kaffitár is a mini-chain of specialty coffee cafés in Reykjavík with seven locations around the city. While many of their cafés exude a chain-store vibe, they still tend to be a pretty reliable place to get a consistent cuppa. Cortado is 610 ISK (little over $5.5).
Kaffitár has seven locations in Reykjavík, including at Perlan (the Pearl). I often went to the Höfðatorg location
Relatively new, Bismút, which gets its name from the chemical element, is a minimal art gallery cum café space on Hverfisgata in Reykjavík 101. Owner Ragnar sources beans from his friends Kvörn Roasters. An espresso is 450 ISK (around $4.25).
Reykjavík cafés tend to be cozy, the kinds of places people spend hours at. Bismút isn’t that, but it’s a really wonderful place to grab an excellent cuppa and people watch from the large windows looking out on Hverfisgata.
Hafnarfjörður is a small little port town located 10km south of Reykjavík. Pálmar Þór Hlöðversson started Pallett Kaffikompaní here in 2012. I likely wouldn’t have heard of them if I didn’t have to drop off my Route 1 rental car. They moved from their spot across the pond to their current spot in a nondescript strip-mall-like building around two years ago. Inside, Pallett Kaffikompaní is everything you want a café in Iceland to be: warm, cozy and welcoming.
Kaffihús Vesturbæjar is a neighborhoody café away from the center, the sea not too far in the southwest. While they don’t put in as much care into their coffee, it’s still pretty good. Cortado using beans from Reykjavík Roasters was 550 ISK (a little over $5).
Located west of the city, in Laekir, Kaffi Laugalækur is a café, bar, bistro, and also a hostel and guesthouse. The café is quite a large space, with a nice backyard for when it’s warm (rarely). Cortado was 550 ISK (a little over $5).