Posted in Kafevend Blog

The entire population of Iceland amounts to around 320,000 people, with around 120,000 living in Reykjavik. The 2011 U.K. Census shows that Cardiff alone has a population of 346,000, which does rather put things into perspective. However, far from being an isolated outpost with nowhere to go for a decent cup of coffee, Iceland has a thriving coffee culture all of its own. The lack of dominance of the big coffee chains ensures that independent coffee shops flourish. Most cafés roast their own beans and so quality is very much dominant over quantity. Once the beans are roasted they are generally used to make Italian style coffees such as latte, cappuccino, espresso and so forth, but many baristas have their own signature preparation techniques.

The history of coffee in Iceland is thought to date back to the early years of the 1700s and as time went on most households had their own roaster and grinder. Coffee was originally used as a means of providing guests with hospitality, but by the mid 1800s it had become firmly established as part of the daily routine. Icelandic words like morgunkaffi – morning coffee, kvöldkaffi – evening coffee, kaffitími – meaning 3 o'clock, a major coffee break time, demonstrate what a pivotal role coffee plays in people's lives.

The Icelandic language is very different to the group of Nordic languages that comprises Norwegian, Danish and Swedish because it has evolved from Old Norse, the language spoken by the Viking settlers in the 9 th century. If you wanted to ask for a cup of coffee then, Get ég fengið bolla af kaffi? would be a polite way of doing so – May I have a cup of coffee? Like so many nations though, the Icelandic speak English perfectly well, so we reap the benefit of our own language's global prevalence once again.

by Kafevend

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