For a long time, the Icelandic coffee scene has been ruled by the hipster Mecca, Reykjavik Roasters. (And with good reason, it’s great coffee, a good setting and it’s close enough to Braud & Co’s addictive cinnamon rolls to make it an arranged marriage of the dream Icelandic mid-day treat.) While Reykjavik Roasters and it’s massive weekend queues aren’t leaving anytime soon, I have great news for anyone that is coming to Reykjavik and wants delicious coffee without the hassle of buying it from a coffee shop that nearly doubles as a tourist site. But despite this opening paragraph, this isn’t about Reykjavik Roasters… this is about something new and something really darling.
Just off Laugavegur, Kaktus Espressobar has quietly opened in the early days of 2019. The shop is bright with sunlight, even on the greyest of winter days like the one I’m hiding from now, and the atmosphere is perfect. With a solid background of Scandnivavian feel- clean lines, blond woods, a jar of homemade kleinur and candlesticks lit for each table- the places feels very much at home in Iceland. However, with the cute addition of cactus planters dotted around the space, Italian coffee beans, matcha lattes & homemade treats ranging from pistachio croissants to healthy date balls & chia pudding- it seems to have also rounded up the best parts of the rest of the globe, too.
But what makes the place especially adorable is the owner who can speak with confidence, pride and the sweetest smile as she talks about items on the menu. You can tell that she has made this place and is really proud of it. You see it in the way she arranges little cakes, the way she helps instruct the employees in the kitchen as they roll out scones in the kitchen, and it makes the feeling so lovely.
I have a feeling that while this place is a bit untouched now, it’s going to become a favourite spot soon. Though I think, from the looks of the crowds here today, it’s going to be claimed by the Icelanders first this time. It’s a local gem and feels like less of an attempt to become popular spot for tourists in the middle of Reykjavik and, rather, the manifestation of someone’s dream to create a great place for people to meet, share and return to week after week.
And hey, even for tourists like me, it’s a great spot to get some cultural observation, that hygge feel, and some good wifi.
KAKTUS ESPRESSOBAR | Vitastígur 12, Reykjavik, Iceland | Open Daily from 07:30 - 18:00 | Weekends from 09:00 -18:00
*images original to Aspiring Kennedy