The aroma of coffee is the essence of a cafe. It’s a powerful motivator and an “emotional arousal” that only coffee lovers understand. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Kafka, Chateaubriand, and other established artists and writers had their inspirational moments in the cafes of Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Vienna. They huddled in their favorite cafes sipping coffee from the little corners just like today’s digital nomads and artists.
Hemingway and his peers probably wouldn’t have gone to Iceland in the 20s to sip coffee in the cafes, but if they were alive today they would be enticed by the aroma of coffee, the food and the unique settings of five of these in Reykjavik.
1. Cafe Loki
Café Loki came highly recommended by Icelandair as the best place for Icelandic food. Located in front of Hallgrímskirkja Church, one of Reykjavik’s top attractions, Café Loki is at a prime location to attract tourists and locals visiting Hallgrímskirkja church and Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden.
There are two floors in Cafe Loki. We chose the sit downstairs by the window for the view.
On our table was espresso, tea and a traditional Icelandic food platter with the fermented shark, smoked lamb, dried fish, mashed fish, smoked trout on a variety of Rye bread. Non-espresso drinkers may want to order a cappuccino, Americano, latte, mocha or regular coffee. You get free refills with regular coffee.
Location: Lokastigur 28
More information: Cafe Loki
2. Cafe Floran
Cafe Floran brings the freshest to the table daily from their garden and greenhouse in the Botanical Garden and local farmers. Ideally situated at the heart of the Botanical garden, Cafe Floran offers tranquility, a constant aroma of coffee and a seasonal menu with food made from scratch daily in their kitchen.
Macchiato, espresso, cappuccino, Americano and cafe latte are some of the hot drinks you’ll find in Cafe Floran.
Location:Grasagarðurinn í Reykjavík (Reykjavik Botanical Garden)
More information: Cafe Floran
3. Cafe Mokka
Mokka-Kaffi is one of Reykjavik’s oldest cafés and the first to install an espresso machine. Since 1958, its been a favorite place for those who love strong Italian-style coffee. The atmosphere is ideal for quiet chats or reading a book while drinking espresso, cappuccino or café latte. There’s no background music in Mokka-Kaffi. However, you can hear the sizzling sound of the espresso machine.
Mokka-Kaffi as the locals call it still maintains the vintage look from the 50s with wood panelings, red carpet, retro lamps, booth seats, and stools.
Aside from the espresso langur (long espresso) like the one in the photo above, you can get a cappuccino, regular coffee, latte and a variety of desserts, waffles, and sandwiches. But the main draw is the coffee of course.
Location: Skólavörðustígur 3A
More information: Mokka-Kaffi
4. Cafeteria Fljótt og Gott
Located inside the BSI bus terminal, Iceland’s main bus terminal, Fljótt og Gott is the first place most people go to for coffee in Reykjavik if they arrived at Keflavik airport and took the airport shuttle bus. The BSI bus terminal also serves as the meeting point for tour buses that leave Reykjavik to other parts of Iceland. It’s convenient to grab coffee, muffins, pastries, hamburgers, sandwiches or Icelandic lamb soup before heading for a tour, to the airport or your hotel.
Fljótt og Gott means Fast and Tasty in Icelandic, and you will get just that. It has a drive thru counter and looks just like most American delis. The differences are the Icelandic menu, and a fresher look compared to its counterparts in the US.
Fljótt og Gott is one of the few places in Iceland you can order sheep head. We didn’t try that but had the next best thing- the must try Icelandic lamb soup called Kjotsupa. Our coffee for the day was an Americano served in a black cup and saucer. The Americano is thicker than those served in Starbucks.
BSI bus terminal is a 10-minute walk to the Hallgrímskirkja Church and a 15-minute walk to Tjörnin.
Location: Vatnsmýrarvegi 1
More information: Fljótt og Gott
5. Cafe Babalu
Cafe Babalu is an eclectic and quirky cafe owned by a New Yorker who now resides in Reykjavik. You’ll see knick knacks on shelves and on the walls. Even the toilet is decorated with interesting knick knacks – which we won’t reveal here. You got to visit to know how different this cafe is.
Besides coffee, the carrot cake and grilled cheese are delicious in Cafe Babalu – made just like in the U.S.
Location: Skolavoerdustigur 22a
Iceland is the world’s third most caffeinated city, each person consuming an average of 9 kg per capita per year. They know the art of making a perfect cup of coffee. Go check it out. If you’re on a cruise to Reykjavik and do not have time to find these cafes, why not take a 3-hour tour of Rekykjavik? You’ll pass by Cafe Loki, Cafe Babalu and Cafe Mokka on this tour: