Icelanders love coffee! If you were to imagine a list of things that Icelanders love, then it’s fairly safe to say that coffee would be high on that list. If two or more Icelanders meet, it will take mere seconds for coffee to be suggested. That is why there are plenty of coffee shops in Reykjavík.
It used to be common for freshly prepared coffee to be served for free at gas stations, swimming pools and shops across the country – unfortunately COVID has now put an end to that nice little tradition, but this hasn’t quenched Icelanders’ thirst for coffee and it is still readily available just about everywhere.
Does Iceland have good coffee?
In a word, yes. Lots of it. Coffee has become a beverage staple of the Icelandic cuisine, so quality is a must. There are simply loads of coffee shops in Reykjavík, all with an extensive coffee (and tea!) menu. Many of these cafés are very cozy, vegan friendly and offer delicious cakes and snacks to go with your beverage. Free Wi-Fi is practically a given.
What about coffee to go? Well, most of the cafés in Reykjavík sell a wide variety of coffee (beans and ground) for you to take with you on your travels. After all, a fresh cup of coffee when you wake up in your camper van is a must! isn't it? The Reykjavík coffee scene is very vibrant, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee seems to follow you as you wander through the city. Here are some of our favorite places to grab a coffee whilst in Reykjavík city.
The best coffee shops in Reykjavík
1. Reykjavik Roasters
Kárastígur 1, Reykjavik 101
These guys take their coffee seriously – true coffee connoisseurs if you will. They import lots of varieties of coffee beans from around the world, roast them on site, and if they make the grade, they place a larger order. This means that their coffee menu is always changing – hey, variety is the spice of life, right?
Reykjavík Roasters has various locations in the city (including at two art galleries – they clearly appreciate art almost as much as coffee!) but our favorite one is at Kárastígur, right in the heart of downtown Reykjavík.
2. Café Aleppo
Tryggvagata 13, Reykjavik 101
Founded by two bakers from Syria, Café Aleppo brings a little taste of the Middle East to downtown Reykjavík. As well as serving seriously delicious sweet pastries (they’re the only place in Iceland that we know of that sells freshly baked baklava), they also make authentic Turkish coffee made with cardamom – and believe us when we say it’s delicious!
There is also a bakery on site (is there a better smell in the world than freshly baked bread combined with freshly brewed coffee?) and their sourdough bread is particularly good – almost as good as their coffee!
3. Mokka Kaffi
Skólavörðustígur 3A, Reykjavik 101
Mokka café house is truly a Reykjavík institution – they’ve been serving coffee from their cozy and intimate downtown location since 1958. Mokka is a favorite haunt of the Reykjavík art community and its walls are adorned with its patron’s latest art collection. Its location on Skolavörðustígur is perfect to sit outside if the weather is nice and gaze over the city.
Like most coffee houses in Reykjavík, there is a selection of cakes and light savory dishes to go with your brew, but we just cannot resist their huge waffles smothered with jam and cream that Mokka are famous for – and we don’t think you will be able to either!
4. Café Babalú
Skólavörðustígur 22 Reykjavík 101
Stepping inside Babalú is a little like walking into someone’s home, such is the cozy and welcoming atmosphere that greets you. Set over two floors and comprising a number of small tastefully furnished rooms, Café Babalú is a great place to relax before, after or even during a long sightseeing day in Reykjavík.
The food menu isn’t bad either, catering for both vegans and vegetarians. On top of that, there is a roof terrace and garden for those (admittedly all too few) hot and sunny Reykjavík days.
5. Arna Kaffihús
Eiðistorg 15, Seltjarnarnes 170
Although, strictly speaking, Arna is in Seltjarnarnes, a small township located a mere 15-minute walk along the coast from the center of Reykjavík, it is worth the visit. Arna Kaffihús has great coffee but what really makes the journey worthwhile is their delicious (and lactose-free) ice cream.
Coffee and ice cream? It might seem like a strange combination to you, but it’s perfectly normal Iceland! Whatever you order, (they do tasty light snacks too), you will be blown away by the magnificent views of the sea and Mount Esja – we told you Seltjarnarnes was a great place to visit!
6. Kattakaffihúsið – The Cat Café House
Bergstaðastræti 10a, Reykjavik 101
As its name suggests, this is a coffee house with a distinctly feline theme. If you love cats and coffee, then this is the place for you. As well as offering great coffee alongside an impressive vegan-friendly snack menu, visitors are also encouraged to enjoy the pleasant company of its five resident cats (it might be six - we had trouble counting all of them!).
Cat cafés like Kattakaffihúsið are a relatively new thing, and given Iceland’s tendency to quickly adopt new trends, it is no surprise that one ended up here. The cats, all of which are rescue cats, are very friendly and will quite happily curl up beside you whilst you sip your coffee – just remember to keep the gate closed when you enter and leave.
7. Íða Zimsen
Vesturgata 2a, Reykjavik 101
You’ve probably heard that Iceland is a nation of book lovers – so it only seems natural to combine this with their love of coffee. To be fair there are loads of bookshops with accompanying coffee houses in Reykjavík, but Íða is definitely our favorite.
Situated just across the road from the Reykjavík Art Museum close to the old harbor, Íða Zimsen is a great place to enjoy a coffee whilst browsing through a fine selection of books and magazines – in an age of smartphones and tablets it’s quite comforting to go to a place where people still enjoy a good book!
8. Café Rosenberg
Vesturgata 3, Reykjavík 101
This is another cool coffee house located smack-bang in the middle of the old center of Reykjavík. The decor certainly seems to match its surroundings – it’s all wooden floorboards with rustic couches and armchairs. There’s also plenty of space, the premises stretch out over two floors.
The coffee is seriously good, and if you end up staying so long that your afternoon coffee turns into an evening drinking session, there is a well-stocked bar serving various Icelandic beers on tap. Café Rosenberg often holds the occasional low-key gig as well. Beer, coffee and live music – now you simply have to visit!
The Icelandic coffee culture
Coffee and coffee shop culture plays a major part in the life of Icelanders. Whilst we hope that your trip to Iceland involves a little bit more than visiting coffee shops in Reykjavík, it’s always a good idea to immerse yourself in Icelandic traditions (well, some of them anyway!) while visiting this amazing country.
Besides the above list of coffee shops in Reykjavík, there are plenty more cafés across Iceland. Book your camper today, explore the island and see how many you can discover!