Coffee is a new parent’s best friend. Whenever I can enjoy a strong cup of coffee in peace and quiet, I feel blessed, and equally frustrated if my coffee gets cold before I can finish, or if the coffee didn’t taste quite as exquisitely as I had hoped.
In the eight plus months since my son was born, I have come to appreciate Iceland’s rich coffee culture—oddly so given the country’s distance from coffee bean plantations—and savor every perfect cup of coffee as I don’t get to have that many.
Having a baby would be a breeze—if not for the lack of sleep. I’m one for going to bed early and sleeping in, and even taking a nap in the day if circumstances allow for it.
Now the needy little monster wakes me up countless times during the night and even if all is forgiven as soon as he gives me one of his heart-melting grins at dawn, running on limited hours of broken sleep is definitely not my modus operandi.
Yet I’ve learned to appreciate the sleep I do get and it’s amazing how the body seems to adapt—suddenly feeling reenergized after a rare three hour period of continuous sleep. Fortunately, I’m not a single parent and my family is always prepared to help out.
Fresh air also does wonders.
I don’t know how many kilometers I’ve walked with the stroller in the past months. In three different seasons, I’ve plodded through snow, struggled with the wind, gotten soaked in the rain, enjoyed every glimpse of sunshine and marveled at nature awaking from its winter slumber, smiling at every new flower blossoming by my regular path and cute little goslings.
Sometimes I head for downtown, meeting up with other new mothers or friends who for various reasons are free during the day.
Over the past few months, I’ve become acquainted with a number of new cafés and eateries. One that I would heartily recommend is Garðurinn on Klapparstígur 37, just off Skólavörðustígur, which always offers filling vegetarian lunches, quality coffee and a tempting selection of cakes.
Another little gem is Kigali on Ingólfsstræti 8, just off Laugavegur, run by a friendly Rwandan. He serves spicy African food and coffee the way it’s meant to be served, taking visitors a step closer to the continent where this world’s most popular beverage originated.
Down by the wharf on Geirsgata 7b lies the cozy Café Haiti; its Haitian owner will make sure to serve you strong coffee par excellence with aromas that send you halfway around the globe.
Also worth mentioning is the new Te & kaffi branch next to my office on Borgartún—whenever you enter a café run either by Te & kaffi or Kaffitár, you’ve got quality coffee, guaranteed—and Kjarvalsstaðir, the art museum, which is great for keeping strollers with sleeping babies outside its grand balcony windows.
I’m certainly not the only Icelander to seek out a good cup of coffee. Cafés are often crowded and in offices, people regularly line up by the coffee maker.
CEO of Kaffitár Aðalheidur Héðinsdóttir said in a 2010 interview with Atlantica that coffee has been a national beverage in Iceland ever since it first became available here.
Back in the days women roasted coffee at the farms and, as with other food preparations, it had to be undertaken with care. Some farms were famous for their coffee.
Today still, when people drop by for a visit, coffee is usually the first thing they are offered, and I’ve been complimented on mine. During my parental leave I’ve made sure never to run out of coffee, as friends and family have been eager to visit.
I’ve shared many a long lunch over interesting conversations while the baby, thankfully, has slept outside in his stroller. People tend to stick around since it’s him they really came to see and he wakes up all the happier to find someone beside myself at home willing to give him their undivided attention.
Now the little rascal will share some quality time with his father for the rest of the summer while I’m relieved to be back at work. I pity my husband who thinks he’s going on an extended summer vacation—I’ll make sure that he doesn’t run out of coffee.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected]