And a short 10 minute jaunt from the centre of town, up towards the Lego-esque church Hallgrimskirkja church is Kaffismiðja Íslands.
From the outside it looks like an innocuous little house. From the inside it feels a little like you’ve stumbled into your grandmother’s drawing room, with worn floors, sewing desks for tables and a big stack of Elvis records in the corner.
But unlike my Grandma’s this is also home to some very serious coffee. Up in amongst some bric a brac on a shelf is a trophy for second place in the 4th annual barista championships. It belongs to one of the owners of Kaffismiðja Íslands; Sonja Björk Einarsdóttir Grant.
Behind the La Marzocco machine today are two good looking young fellows. One is dressed in sports casual, the other attired a cardigan, shirt and tie. Like so many of the blonde dapper hipsters we’ve seen in Reykjavic he’s sporting an impressive moustache. It’s almost as if there’s a fawn Tom Selleck competition going on.
Hang on- there actually is a Tom Selleck competition that goes on in this town.
There’s air is idyllic smell of cinnamon pastries that are baking. Above our heads is a big piece of brown paper with the coffee options written in marker. The prices are darn reasonable- it’s 390 Icelandic Kroner for a latte; (which when we visited converted to around £1.30).
It’s two lattes to start and one of their just baked fruit scones. The scone comes with a pat of Icelandic butter, a flat slice of Gouda and a little pot of red berry jam. It’s a curious combination that works. It’s a bit like the Spanish union of manchego and quince paste- on a crumbly, fruit dotted scone.
The grinds get double tamped and the result carries with it a nice caramel flavour. We missed out on proper latte art, though others around us haven’t. But what we skipped in pretty pictures was made up for temperature, strength and flavour. This is a good cup of coffee. Which after a late arrival into a city and a hotel room that would have benefited from double glazed windows, is just what we need.
Kaffismiðja Íslands is a very groovy place, frequented by locals who are much funkier than we are. There’s a gentle rockabilly sound track courtesy of the ancient turn tables and there is plenty of space to spread out with the local paper.
For us, it’s all about map spreading and people watching. There are plenty of patrons stumbling in with bleary eyes. In a city where most of the bars don’t shut until 5 am, that’s easy to understand.
Beyond the smell of grinding beans there’s s constant aroma of new batches pastries being baked.
It would be wrong not to taste the plain and chocolate croissants, which potter about on mismatched antique plates.
Add a double macchiatto and it’s just the stern sort of stuff you need to steel you for a stroll by the lake, tickled by arctic winds.
You heard it from us; all days in Iceland should start like this.
Kárastíg 1, 101 Reykjavík