From Iceland — Passion For The Bean

Passion For The Bean

Published September 18, 2009

Passion For The Bean

Kaffismiðja Íslands is Reykjavík’s Mecca for coffee enthusiasts. September 16–19, they will be bringing home the cream of the international crop as they co-host the Nordic Barista Championships.
Coffee shop, training centre and roastery, Kaffismiðja Íslands is the work of two eminent coffee professionals, Ingibjörg Jóna Sigurðardóttir and Sonja Björk Grant. Ingibjörg is a 2-time national barista champion and world finalist. Sonja’s credits would fill the rest of this article: co-founder of the world barista championships, international judge, Icelandic barista coach…the list goes on. So we’ll move on.
“I wanted a job in a pet shop. I have often thought that if I had gotten one, I would still be there, with a parrot on my shoulder,” she tells me. Instead of hanging out with parrots, Sonja is running around her own coffee shop, bright red oven mitten on one hand and a plate of cinnamon rolls in the other, a knot of carrot red hair bouncing merrily on the side of her head.
At Kaffismiðja, Sonja is going back to basics and getting her hands dirty with the coffee. With their groovy pink roaster the Kaffismiðja ladies can try out new things in small batches, roasting a kilogram of beans at a time if they so wish. “It is so much fun to experiment!” she says.
Opened at the beginning of the year, word of mouth has quickly established a faithful following. At nine in the morning the place is packed with regulars, most of whom the guru greets like old friends.
“All these coffee nerds have been hiding in their closets. Now they’ve come out, come here and started talking,” Sonja says about the community growing around the shop.
“A couple of months ago, I made the last shot of the Kenyan bean we had. There were ten people in the room who wanted to buy that shot! Nothing like that has ever happened to me,” Sonja smiles. The Kenyan supply sold out months ago, yet the staff still receives regular enquiries.
In mid-September the Kaffismiðja ladies and their co-conspirators will stage an invasion as 100 extra coffee-geeks come to town for the Nordic Barista cup.  The Reykjavík Art Museum—Hafnarhúsið—serves as venue for the event, which is open to the public on Saturday 18th—and with three world-champion baristas in town, the coffee should be decent.
Daily cafe duties, evening roasting sessions and organising the barista cup keep Sonja busy from dawn till dusk. I can’t help but wonder what all this must do for her caffeine intake:
“I don’t drink that much coffee,” Sonja says, “maybe ten cups a day.”

  • Location: the corner of Frakkastigur and Kárastigur.
  • Opening hours: Weekdays from 8.30 to 5pm. Weekends from 9am to 4pm.
  • Kaffismiðja Islands
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