Icelandic Café Culture

I am in love. In love with the coffee culture in Reykjavik. In downtown area, you can find at least one café each block. Each has its unique personality and characteristics. Many are more like wine bars than cafés! I didn’t have enough time to explore all the famous ones like Kaffitar. Yet, for the few I randomly walked in, it was still a pleasant surprise every time!

Laundromat Café (Austurstraeti 9): Warm & Friendly

Larda02I was immediately drawn to the bookshelves and decors on the walls as I walked into this café. It is all about love. The menu covers everything – from coffee to wine, breakfast to entrée on the menu. No matter what time of the day it is, you probably will find something to fit your appetite.

Larda03When I paid my first visit here, I just got off a red-eye flight. It was technically breakfast time. Yet, with the time difference, I should have lunch. So, I ordered an oven-baked salmon with salad. Salmon fillet is a tricky dish as it is easily overcooked. This one was different. The salmon melt inside my mouth! Very refreshing on a travelling day Lamb_shank_raw.

On my departure day, I came back again. Knowing I would be starving for the next few hours, I ordered another gourmet dish – lamb shank in red-wine sauce. Another score. The presentation and taste was as good as in any high-end restaurant but the price was 1/3 less at least!

Café Loki (Lokastigur 28): Bold & Proud

Loki02The café is located in a quiet corner, near the Lutheran Cathedral – a popular tourist attraction. I nearly missed it if it wasn’t for its bright yellow walls. It was known to serve traditional Icelandic dishes. I was simply looking for a quick caffeine fix. Icelandic or not, should serve me well.

I was about to order a regular Swiss Mocha. Something on the menu caught my eyes. “Icelandic coffee drinks”.

There are three kinds: Farmers Coffee, Priests Coffee and Bishops Coffee. Loki01They all share one thing in common – Brennivin. I had no idea what it was. I asked the waitress to let me take a look at the bottle. 37.5% alcohol. That’s a good push for me to try it out.

So, which one should I get? At first, I wanted to go for the top one, the Bishops. It was a Swiss Mocha. But, I changed my mind last minute. If I want to get a taste of Brennivin, I should go simple. Just took it with black coffee, ie. the Farmers. The first sip felt like Bradley. Not too bad. The second sip, wow, I started feeling the heat coming up. Later, I found out, Brennivin in fact has a nick-name: Black Death.

I was glad I survived it. Nicely.

Mokka Kaffi (Skolavoroustig 3A): Classy & Intellectual

It was labeled as one of the oldest cafés in Reykjavik. Wooden chairs and tables. Nothing fancy about the décors. Simple art works on the walls. Simple yet classy.

Mokka01And, there is no wifi. So, you do not find people fixated on the screens on their smarts phones. People were chatting. Some were reading books. I sat in a quiet corner. Felt like I was in a library.

No wines and alcohols. No fancy drinks. I just ordered a Swiss Mocha. Brought back a lot of memories. Just like the old days.

Stofan Kaffihús (Adalstraeti 7): Stylish & Approachable

stofan03It was a heavy-raining day. I was looking for a refuge. There it was. Looking through the windows, I could see some sofas. Looked comfy.

At first, I thought I was at a bar. I saw more bottles than espresso machines. I was hesitated when I went for a latte. Yet, when I saw the latte art in the cup, I knew I was at the right place. You needed a heart to make nice latte flower like that.

Soon enough, I had some nice company. A black kitten found her way through the door and stofan02curled up in the sofa chair beside me. The lovely waitress told me she was a regular there and that was her chair. By law, no cats should step foot in a café. As sneaky as her cat friend, the waitress pretended she did not see her – until someone complained.

Seriously. Who would do that – particularly after a few drinks?