Words and Photos by Elliott Brandsma
Iceland’s cool, windy climate has made coffee the beverage of choice for most Reykjavík residents. As a result, the island nation’s bustling capital city boasts a flourishing coffee shop culture, with unique cafés lining seemingly every street in the downtown area. As April rapidly approaches, the Iceland Writers Retreat has gathered a list of the six coziest coffee joints in Reykjavíkʼs city center, where writers of all tastes, styles, and temperaments can grab a cup-of-joe while typing up their literary masterpieces.
Café Babalú, Skólavörðustígur 22A.
Located just down the street from Hallgrímskirkja, the towering church in the center of town, Café Babalú is a quirky two-story coffee house adorned with an eclectic array of furniture and visual art. When the sky is sunny and clear, this casual coffee joint’s balcony becomes the perfect place to enjoy a light lunch, followed by a relaxing afternoon of writing or reading. A hot spot for hipsters, tourists, and locals alike, Café Babalú represents the ideal location for authors who write best in and draw inspiration from unconventional environments.
Reykjavík Roasters, Kárastígur 1.
Often named one of Reykjavík’s coolest coffee shops, Reykjavík Roasters is a small, unassuming venue near the center of town with a big reputation for making exceptional lattés, espressos, and hot chocolate. The layout of this hidden gem is clunky and congested, making finding a seat during peak hours difficult, but if you’re lucky enough to secure a table, prepare yourself for one of the most authentic and enjoyable coffee shop experiences in Reykjavík. Reykjavík Roasters attracts a diverse crowd of customers, and its compact, snug atmosphere is perfect for writers who welcome occasional distractions.
Stofan Kaffíhús, Vesturgata 3.
Spacious, warm, and comfortable, Stofan Kaffihús—which is located inside a renovated antique store—is a staple in the Reykjavík coffee scene, a café known for its rugged charm, cozy atmosphere and scrumptious deserts. Situated just a block away from the capitalʼs largest library, the laid-back and trendy vibe of this coffee shop makes it a great space to work on a novel, type up an essay, or compose a blog entry. At night it turns into an energetic bar, where local artists, writers, and musicians like to hang out and socialize. Try ordering a piece of Stofan’s rich chocolate cake or scrumptious carrot cake to accompany your afternoon cup of coffee. You wonʼt regret it!
Kaffibrennslan, Laugavegur 21.
Conveniently located on Reykjavík’s busiest shopping street, Kaffibrennslan is a lively coffee shop with a wide selection of not only coffees and beverages but also breakfast and lunch options, making it a great spot for authors who prefer starting early in the morning and working into the afternoon. If you enjoy typing in a cozy, more intimate setting, then take your laptop upstairs to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the café’s ground floor. If you are partial to more active environments, the ground level is the best place for writers who draw inspiration from observing others and listening to the pleasant sounds of daily conversation.
Kaffitár, Bankastræti 8.
Brightly-decorated and always busy, Kaffitár on Bankastræti is one of Reykjavíkʼs hippest cafés. Closely situated near some of Reykjavík’s trendiest shops and restaurants, this dynamic coffee shop is a suitable destination for writers on-the-go who often have to steal time to work on their projects. Customers of all kinds frequent this recently-rearranged café—students and writers, travelers and professionals, natives and expats—ensuring a unique experience and atmosphere every time you visit. Aside from offering a wide selection of coffees and deserts, Kaffitár also serves delicious teas and light lunch dishes to satisfy those afternoon cravings.
Súfistinn, Laugavegur 18.
What could be better than sipping a warm cup of coffee in a quiet café tucked inside what has been named one of the 12 best bookstores in the world? Café Súfistinn is a hidden gem of a coffee shop located on the second floor of iconic book vendor Mál og Menning, which is the largest and oldest publishing house in Iceland. Warm and welcoming, spacious and comfortable, Súfistinn is a fantastic hang out spot to catch up on blogging, reading, or writing. Afterward you can browse the aisles of the book shop and pick out a souvenir for your trip to Iceland. Simply put, Súfistinn is a book lover’s paradise.