One of the things Iceland is known for is its coffee shop culture. There are lots of quaint coffee shops on most corners in Reykjavik. Some are filled with old books, some filled with old couches and furniture, creating the feeling that you could be sitting in someone’s living room. Many are child/family friendly with a steady flow of people coming and going. They even have their version of Tim’s…the homegrown ‘Te & Kaffee’.
I was there for the Iceland Writers Retreat and our workshop hosts compiled a list of great cafés and coffee shops to visit including which ones had the most generous cup sizes. They also let us in on the secret of who had some of the best treats. I could not resist! I visited a few and a favorite for me was C for Cookie! I grabbed a big comfy chair, not unlike Molly’s ‘big comfy couch’ and ordered up. I chose a Swiss Mocha as the morning was getting on and I had already really had my fill of straight caffeine. I couldn’t decide on the chocolate cake in a cup or the cheesecake with a layer of shiny chocolate spread over the top. I asked the barista which she would recommend and her eyes lit up, she gave a sideways glance at the cheesecake. She said in her beautiful Icelandic accent, “Oh, the cheesecake is my favorite! It’s soooo good”. I was sold. Usually, at home when I go out for coffee, I just have, well, … coffee! I rarely indulge myself in a sweet treat; choosing instead to ‘save those calories’ for the main course at home. I might change that habit! The cheesecake was fantastic. It was a thicker texture than most cheesecakes I am used to, yet it had a silky smooth texture and a melt-in-your-mouth taste of tangy sweetness. Couple that with the Swiss Mocha and I had sugar plums dancing in my belly and my head!
I sat for an hour enjoying the dry warmth after dashing in and out of wind and rain all morning. I perused the many books and magazines on the book shelf and read the local paper, The Grapevine. I was comfortably sunk in the large armchair people watching out the window, full of thanks that I was inside feeling toasty.
As I reflected on the famed coffee culture in Iceland, there are a few excellent coffee shops I love back home. My current favourites being Common Ground and Café Haven in Sherwood Park. I might also enjoy a sweet treat next time I go! If you are into making your own cuppas at home, it’s worth the trek downtown to National Cappuccino for some of their fantastic espresso beans from Organic Café Fantini–my favorite beans!