A Guide to the Best Coffee Shops in Reykjavík
Icelanders are coffee junkies. This is quite understandable as caffeine is crucial to properly function when the sun only peeks out for about 4 hours in the peak of winter. So naturally, there is an abundance of coffee shops in Reykjavík.
Surprisingly for its remote location, coffee was already introduced to Iceland in 1703 when Icelandic scholar and collector Árni Magnússon brought some beans back from his travels abroad. Naturally, coffee remained the privilege of mostly wealthy men (as always). In the middle of the 18th century, the hot brew already became a commonly used product in Iceland, with almost every Icelandic household (aka turfhold) owning a roaster and grinder by the end of the century! Since then, it is not uncommon for Icelanders to have an excessive daily amount of coffee, mostly drunk black.
If you want to join in the habit, and relax in some of the cosiest coffee shops in Reykjavík, check out our compiled list of the best coffee shops around town!
Mokka is among the oldest cafés in Reykjavík.
In 1958, Guðmundur Baldvinsson and his wife Guðný Guðjónsdóttir opened the coffeeshop after Guðmundur found his love for espresso when he was studying arts in Italy. During its first years, Mokka was a go-to for intellectuals and artists, who enjoyed a demitasse of freshly brewed espresso – the best coffee north of the Alps, according to an Italian ambassador in the 60s. Stepping into Mokka immediately feels like time travelling far back, as the unique interior is still exactly the same as back then, featuring original leather and wood designs from the late 50s. Apart from their unique brews, they also offer delicious waffles with light whipped cream and some juicy jam – the recipe is a family secret. If you crave a truly unique Icelandic coffee experience, head to Mokka and slurp some steaming hot espresso. It’s the best in the North.
Kaffibrennslan, the coffee roaster, is a classic.
While they have a grand selection of coffees of all kinds, they also offer sandwiches, waffles and big moist cakes. This is the perfect place if you want to grab a coffee in the afternoon and smoothly transform it into a beer as the day progresses. They offer two floors of seating, with the upstairs being super cosy and calm, making it a great place to work remotely from. If the typical Icelandic “gluggaveður” hits (meaning the weather looks beautiful from the inside but is terrible to be in), their heated greenhouse with cute string lights is the best place to be while slurping on some hot chocolate and indulging in people-watching on Laugavegur.
Emilie and the Cool Kids
Opening in 2019 by a French expat as a franchise of a coffee chain in France, Emilie and the Cool Kids has become a staple coffee shop in Reykjavík.
They offer the most delicious Bagels, cookies and croissants by far – if not in all of Reykjavík. Any bagel you could crave, they offer. From salmon, hot dog, and avocado to goat cheese, they will satisfy your desire for a great bagel outside the US. Emilie and the cool kids have also become quite famous for their variety of cookies, muffins and cakes. Their seating area is not the biggest, but very cosy with plants fueling the jungle optic in the coffee shop. Perfect choice for a delicious breakfast bagel before exploring the city!
Kattakaffihúsið - The Cat Café
Cats and Coffee. A combo we didn’t know we needed but is absolutely crucial for one’s mental well-being. Reykjavík without its cats wouldn’t be the same and some cats in Reykjavík would even be considered local celebrities.
The vegan coffee shop is located close to Krónan grocery store downtown and was founded in 2018 by the two friends Ragnheiður and Gígja. All of the cats are rescues and up for adoption. Apart from cats and coffee, the café also has a cat design store “Mjá” (The Icelandic Meow), satisfying any cat lover’s desires. Kattakaffihúsið offers a wide selection of cakes, tartlets, other sweets and breakfast options, like avocado toast and sandwiches. Currently, four cats reside in the halls of the café. Get yourself a flat white, a piece of vegan carrot cake and follow up on the success stories of previously adopted kitties on their website. We’re not crying, you’re crying!
Kárastígur, Brautarholt 2, Ásmundarsalur on Freyjugata 41
Reykjavík Roasters is a feeling.
This Reykjavík café was founded in 2008 and quickly became a favourite among the coffee community of downtown. Their goal is to import carefully selected coffee beans from sustainable farms around the world and roast them in an individual manner. In three different locations in Reykjavík, they make coffee seem like a piece of art. Highly skilled baristas will pour you one of the best cups of coffee you’ve probably had! You can also purchase some of their coffee beans in the shops, so you can transport the ultimate Reykjavík Roasters feeling back home while daydreaming about your adventures in Iceland.
Sandholt, a family-owned bakery in Reykjavík, reinvents recipes of the past with current approaches, aiming to create new delicious pastries.
Right in the midst of Laugavegur, they have a bakery and coffee shop with different lunch options, numerous mouth-watering cakes and special bread creations! From potato and walnut bread, volcanic ash and goji berry loaves to marble sourdough bread – Sandholt always has something on stock that you’ve never seen before! Definitely worth checking out. Satisfy your appetite with a tasty sourdough sandwich for lunch before venturing out again to discover more of Reykjavík.
Brauð og Co
Frakkastígur 16 & other locations
Brauð og Co is not a classic café but an established Icelandic bakery with the best cinnamon buns in Iceland.
They opened up in 2016 and since then, seven more shops have popped out of nowhere, as the original bakery was always sold out way before closing time. Apart from cinnabuns, they bake amazing big loaves of juicy sourdough bread (as a German, I can say it’s one of the best loaves I’ve ever had!), crispy pretzel croissants and other delicious pastries. In their Downtown Reykjavík bakery, they have three seats by the window available for a coffee or breakfast on the go. Brauð og Co is a great choice for a quick breakfast for your road trip out into the Icelandic countryside. Nothing is better than jumping back into the warm car, after visiting a freezing waterfall and excitedly remembering that there is a cinnabun waiting for you!
Kaktus Espressobar, a small and charming café in Reykjavík founded by two Icelandic friends, distinguishes itself by seamlessly blending Italian coffee excellence with delicious food options.
A warm ambience with flourishing plants and retro light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, invites you to unwind in the cosy space while sipping on some tasty coffee. If you’re into plants, we have good news! Apart from brewing coffee, Kaktus Espressobar also has an array of cacti and other plants for sale. Whether you seek a simple espresso or just a green refuge while indulging in some hot soup after a long and cold day, Kaktus Espressobar caters to your senses.