I am delighted to welcome Jessica Rose to guest write about Icelandic coffee culture. As someone who has been to Iceland and experienced their fantastic coffee culture first hand, it is great to have Jess offering some fantastic insights and comparisons between their coffee culture and what us Brummies experience!
Coming from Birmingham, the most striking thing about Reykjavik’s coffee culture is what’s missing. The big corporate coffee brands aren’t to be found here. The nearest thing you can find to a Starbucks or Costa is Te & Kaffi, an Icelandic chain with just 8 locations across the county that opened in the 80s and helped launch Iceland’s love affair with great coffee.
What both Birmingham and Reykjavik do share are a growing number of independent coffee houses with incredibly loyal fanbases.
While Brummies hotly debate the merits of Urban Coffee over 6/8 etc., our Icelandic counterparts declare their loyalty to Tui Dropar or Kaffitar (ed: a personal favourite). With only 120,000 people in the city, Reykjavik still sports over a dozen independent coffee shops, each drawing its own loyalists. Icelandic coffee houses fill an important social niche, staying open as late as 1 am throughout the week and serving beer, sweets and light meals alongside coffees and mocha. Even outside of the dedicated coffee shops, locally roasted coffee can be purchased in almost any cafe, restaurant or gas station.
In a food culture where vegetarian options are few and far between, Reykjavik’s coffee shops often provide casual vegetarian options, such as Tiu Dropar’s cheese and vegetable sandwiches.
Cafe Loki, just before the Hallgrímskirkja Church supplies tourists and the faithful with coffee as well as its famous rye bread ice cream and Iceland’s infamous fermented shark.
Icelanders are the third largest consumers of coffee by capita and this level of demand has resulted in a network of high quality coffee houses. These coffee shops have begun working together to build an overarching cafe culture through shared supply chains, education and events. Reykjavik recently hosted the 2013 Nordic Barista Cup and hold regular workshops and events to help develop the Icelandic coffee scene.
Jessica is an American transplant, living in Birmingham. She blogs about tech and programming at www.closetoclever.com and has collected a list of Icelandic vegetarian dining options at : http://closetoclever.com/vegetarian-options-iceland/
So what do you think we can learn or even benefit from other country’s coffee cultures? Join the conversation at @coffeebrum.