Maybe you’ve just come back from a day of epic adventures in the Icelandic wilderness, or perhaps it’s arrival day and you want to take in the Reykjavík vibe before you kick into your gear. On the other hand, it might be departure day, and you want somewhere quiet to reflect on your holiday before leaving.
Cafés are great for many moods and situations like these, so it’s always good to know where the best ones are nearby. Make sure to take note of these must-visit Coffee Shops in Reykjavík.
Coffee Drinking in Iceland
It might interest you to know that all of the eight Nordic countries hold top ten spots in coffee consumption per capita. Finland, Norway and Iceland sit in spots one, two and three, with Icelanders consuming 9 kg per year on average.
This could be linked to the fact that these areas experience almost total darkness for several months of the year. Coffee shops serve as places to meet in a social environment that is both warm and friendly. Icelanders flock to them for interviews, meetings, dates, catch-ups or for no reason at all.
Not to mention the baristas in Iceland take great pride in their craft, knowing how essential their input is to the drink’s taste.
While the coffee beans used in Iceland are imported from countries like Columbia and Brazil, they are roasted in the Land of Fire and Ice. And since coffee has been a big part of Icelandic culture for a while now, local methods have been developed.
Fortunately, the international coffee shop chains have no influence in Iceland. You won’t find Starbucks or Costas here, only small local chains and independent shops.
However, if you’re traveling from the US and want a taste of home, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts in Reykjavík where you can get your fix. Thankfully, the tipping culture in Iceland is not like the US, so only the franchise was imported, but not its customs.
Here are a few recommended places to visit during your time in the capital. Side note: decaffeinated coffee isn’t really a thing here, so it won’t be easy to find. In fact, we only know of two places that offer decaf: the two biggest chains, Te & Kaffi and Kaffitár.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many coffee shops in Iceland offer free refills on black coffee, so that’s worth asking about.
Top Best Coffee Shops in Reykjavík
If you like cozy cafés, look no further than Café Babalú. Located just a short walk away from the famous church, Hallgrímskirkja, it’s probably the coziest café we’ve ever been in. Even if you lose your way en route, it’s easy to be spotted because of its bright orange color.
The café’s interior is filled with a fascinating variety of chairs, tables and decorations, creating a balance of chaos and order. Paintings and ornaments line the walls as well as shelves with no apparent pattern, which we personally love exploring.
Besides teas and coffees, Babalú also serves a range of food. When we visited the café last week, we enjoyed one of the best soups of our life.
Te & Kaffi
Also known as Te og Kaffi (og is Icelandic for “and”), this chain has nine branches around the Capital Region. All of them maintain a very sleek, smooth atmosphere, where patrons feel both comfortable and present.
For me, it looks just how we would expect a coffee shop in a modern Nordic country to look- the kind of place you could happily spend an hour looking through holiday snaps while enjoying the vibe.
Their expertly-made teas and coffees are highly regarded, as are their range of snacks. In addition to bagels and croissants with various fillings, Te & Kaffi offer sweet brownies for your dessert pleasure. We highly recommend trying the hot chocolate.
With two branches of Te & Kaffi on the central Laugavegur shopping street, as well as one in Lækjartorg, there’s no excuse not to give it a try!
Kaffitár is a favorite among coffee lovers, boasting in high-quality beans and top-of-the-range coffee machines, They have a direct relationship with the farmers they source their beans from, buying from them directly in most cases.
Once you’ve experienced their coffee for yourself, you can buy a bag to take home. The company has six branches in the Capital Region, including one in central downtown on Bankastræti. If you’re on the way home, hop into their branch in Keflavík International Airport before flying.
One of the newer players in the coffee scene, Roasters was opened in 2008 under the name Kaffismiðja Íslands. Their first three branches are centrally located—one is close to Hallgrímskirkja—and they’ve just opened a fourth in Kopavogur.
We are particularly fans of the huge windows that are consistent across all locations, an alternative effect to the dimness of most coffee shops in Reykjavík.
The Roasters team offers workshops on how to brew better coffee at home, and sells a range of brewing equipment. With this chain, it was never just about selling coffee; it’s about the experience.
This café has arguably one of the best locations in the city; it’s on the square in front of Hallgrímskirkja. From its windows, you can view the 74.5-meter-high church in all its glory. This spot focuses more on the food side of things than drinks, serving a range of traditional Icelandic dishes.
Here you can try lamb soup, rye bread, smoked and mashed fish, or even the famous fermented shark. For dessert, Café Loki offers a range of cakes and pancakes with your topping or filling of choice.
If the weather is good, the family-owned establishment will place chairs and tables outside for people to enjoy the outdoors.
One of the oldest Reykjavík coffee shops, Mokka serves some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. They also make incredible waffles, so if you want a warm drink and something sugary to eat, you’re all set.
Mokka kaffi displays artwork from local artists, which is also available for purchase, so keep your eye out for pieces that capture you. The decoration and furnishings are classical and sophisticated, creating a very romantic setting. And if you’re peckish, they offer a range of grilled sandwiches.
I’ve purposely saved our favorite until last. This place has been running since 1951 and is still going strong today. Perhaps Prikið is best described as a coffee shop/restaurant/bar, depending on the time you visit.
They have a great menu, including several vegan options, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. At night, the quaint café turns into a pumping bar which both locals and tourists frequent.
There’s often live music and DJs on the weekends, showcasing some local musical talent. Prikið is easy to find; it’s a big red building situated on a corner downtown, on the bustling street of Bankastræti.
A cup of Joe in Iceland
The best thing about coffee shops in Reykjavík is their character. Each with a special style of their own, they infuse a unique approach into their menus, coffee making, and the overall atmosphere they wish to create.
Why not visit a few while you’re here? Just like capital’s many museums, the coffee shops give you a taste of Icelandic culture.