The Search for Iceland's Best Coffee
The summer in Iceland makes you feel invincible. Because of the constant daylight, a foreigner (me) feels that 2 AM lattes are very appropriate.
A majority of the coffee shops tasted very similar. It was milder than the roasty kick I'm used to. It was solid (3.5/5). Often times, when I asked baristas about the roast or brightness, they would not know. Latte art wasn't much of a thing.
Coffee Snob Rule #1: Your barista should be able to talk coffee to you.
Coffee Snob Rule #2: If your coffee tastes not as good as my Nespresso Pixie, I'm walking away.
My entire road trip, I scoured Iceland in search of a roasty, bold Icelandic latte with art. On my final day, I came across Reykjavik Roasters.
I walked in and I could smell the sharp smell of espresso emanating from their La Marzocco. The whole place had a Scandinavian hipster vibe.
I strutted up to the counter and asked my usual question, "How is your espresso? Is it citrus-y? Is it bold? What beans do you use?"
I held my breath. Usually baristas would give me a confused look or say they don't know.
"Our espresso is bright, but still has quite a bit of body. We roast here."
The woman behind me chimes in, "Yes, it's very good - Food Republic has written about Reykjavik Roasters."
I'm usually not a huge fan of bright roasts, but I was so craving a good latte that-
"YES!! I'll take a latte. YES!"
It was as if the barista had asked to marry me.
The coffee came out and it had the crisp, beautiful design I had been craving the entire trip. And the taste was exactly as he had described. Most importantly. It was GOOD.
Other spots that the barista recommended were Pallet and Kaffitar.
Coffee Snob Rule #3: Trust the barista that serves you a good latte. Trust his or her coffee suggestions.
The Highlights of my Coffee Search
More Reykjavik Coffee
At Tiu Droppar, a cozy little venue located in a basement, I asked the barista about the beans they use. The barista said she was new and referred me to another guy. He claimed he was new as well and people come to the venue for the environment.
I asked if people come for the food. He hesitated. I proceeded out the door. The venue was very cozy, though. Good for a beer with a good friend. They also have live music.
At Cafe Babalu, I ordered a latte and asked my usual questions. This is what the barista says:
Barista: Well - our coffee is just okay. You should try Reykjavik Roasters.
My heart shatters.
Barista: We're known for our pastries.
I promptly order a Nutella Cheesecake to drown my sorrows in. For the amount that bloggers write about this place, it's not so great. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing. The vegetarian chili smelled epic.
I really enjoyed the brunch at Laundromat Cafe. The coffee tasted bolder than most places I had been too- they had latte art!!
Te & Kaffi is like the Starbucks of Iceland. The Te & Kaffis I saw were located in cute little book stores. If you want to get a coffee and browse books, I would recommend this shop.
Coffee at the Airport in Keflavik
This was my first cup of coffee in Iceland. Let me preface: This is not a Icelandic coffee shop, but rather a Danish chain. This more of a necessity than a want when you land in Keflavik. You have to prepare for summer's eternal daylight.
Coffee in Akuryeri
Blaa Kanaan had the best cup of coffee in Akuryeri. I would also recommend their pastries.
Cafe Ilmur serves quite a delicious brunch buffet, and they had latte art! I would come here if you wanted to do brunch and coffee. If you just wanted coffee, I would recommend Blaa Kannan.
If I were to start a coffee shop in Iceland, I would call it "The Midnight Sun". I can't believe a coffee shop doesn't exist with this name. Missed opportunity.
Also, be sure to read these other coffee posts: