Culture & Coffee at Siguranna café in Reykjavík

The following is promotional content in partnership with Siguranna café.

Iceland’s vibrant capital city, Reykjavík, is not short of cosy coffee houses. But some have far more to offer guests than the typical selection of hot pastries and fruity teas. In fact, Siguranna café, in particular, blows the competition out of the water.

Named jointly after its friendly joint owners, Sigurveig and Anna, Siguranna exceeds expectations in ways most cafés could never dream of.

This is not only thanks to the delectable flavours on its menu, but also the affable nature of its staff and the intimate ambience they provide.

For those who rely on a caffeine boost to start their day, Siguranna transforms the simple act of sipping hot java into an unforgettable experience. This is largely due to the café’s location in the historic building, Safnahusið, as well as their wide selection of cakes, pastries, paninis, and salads.

Before reading on, make sure to check out this informative video from Sigurveig and Anna introducing their café:

What is Safnahusið?

Safnahusið – or the House of Collections – is a cornerstone of Iceland’s art and culture scene. As part of the National Gallery of Iceland, it is regularly used as an exhibition space for local and visiting creators, as well as a venue for sophisticated events and functions.

With a bright white exterior and gated courtyard, the building is located on Hverfisgata street, smack between the monolithic architecture of Þjóðleikhúsið, Iceland’s National Theatre, and the city park, Arnarholl.

Given that Hverfisgata runs parallel to Reykjavík’s main shopping street, Laugavegur, you’ll likely find yourself passing the building while discovering the downtown area. If so, it is well worth stopping in to see why Safnahusið commands such respect.

A brief history of Safnahusið

Siguranna cafe can be found in the House of Collections in Reykjavik, Iceland
Photo: Siguranna Facebook.

For one, Safnahusið has an incredibly storied past. 

The building was first constructed in 1909. For 85 years, it was home to the National Library, with bookshelves brimming with ancient sagas and local manuscripts. Later, it would be used to store the national archives before being the primary home of the Nature Museum and National Museum.

In 2000, the building changed its name to the Culture House, though this rebrand did not last long. In Spring 2014, it reverted to its former name, Safnahusið, and it has remained as such ever since.

Currently, Safnahusið hosts the permanent exhibition, Points of View, which is curated by the house’s director, Markús Þór Andrésson. Drawing from the National Gallery, the National Archives, and the National Museum, this exhibition provides a fantastic overview of not just Safnahusið’s history, but also Iceland’s unique Nordic culture.

What does Siguranna café offer?

Siguranna's food selection
Photo: Siguranna Facebook.

Exploring the nuances of Icelandic culture can be thirsty work.

Thankfully, Siguranna café is there to provide respite, relief, and relaxation. As with most cafés, customers pick their favourite method of consuming coffee, be it a latte, macchiato, or espresso.

Younger guests – or those who never acquired the taste for inky brew – can pick out any number of soft drinks. After all, Siguranna café promotes a family atmosphere, welcoming those of all ages into their quaint tea room.

But, of course, drinking is only half the story. And when it comes to food, Siguranna café has rightfully formed a fantastic reputation.

Sandwiches from Siguranna
Photo: Siguranna Facebook.

Particular recommendations would be the fresh, homemade scones, baked to perfection thanks to a recipe passed down to Sigurveig from her grandmother.

Other delicious choices might include a slice of lemon or chocolate chip pound cake, or fresh cookies straight out of the oven.

If you’re looking for something a little heartier than baked snacks, Siguranna café has plenty for the hungrier individual. Hot paninis, salads, and Danish-style open face sandwiches can all be ordered, though the menu does change regularly. 

Keep up to date with what’s on offer by following Siguranna café on social media.

Photo: Siguranna Facebook

Deep North Episode 71: Goodbye to the Grind

kaffi valeria snæfellsnes kirkjufell

The oldest known evidence of coffee in Iceland is a letter that Lárus Gottrup, a lawyer in Þingeyri, wrote to Árni Magnússon, a professor and manuscript collector, on November 16, 1703. They had spoken at the Alþingi (national Parliament meeting) that summer, and Árni was upset that his friend had forgotten to send him the coffee he had requested by spring ship from Copenhagen. To avoid leaving Árni stimulant-free, Gottrup sent 114 g of coffee beans (about a quarter of a pound) and noted that he himself did not like coffee: “After all, I’m not a fan of it.”

Nowadays, cafés dot the Icelandic landscape, from the bustling streets of Reykjavík to the most remote rural villages, each with its own character and charm, yet all sharing the same commitment to keep the community buzzing. And in one small West Iceland town, a fresh brew is bubbling: Kaffi Valeria, a specialty café steeping tradition and innovation in a country with a caffeine history as deep and intriguing as a cup of its finest roast.

Read the story here.

Goodbye to the Grind

kaffi valeria kirkjufell grundarfjörður

The oldest known evidence of coffee in Iceland is a letter that Lárus Gottrup, a lawyer in Þingeyri, wrote to Árni Magnússon, a professor and manuscript collector, on November 16, 1703. They had spoken at the Alþingi (national Parliament meeting) that summer, and Árni was upset that his friend had forgotten to send him the […]

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Ísafjörður Celebrates the Return of Sun

Today is Sólardagur, or Sun Day, the day on which the residents of Ísafjörður in the Westfjords welcome the return of the sun, RÚV reports. During the dark winter days at the end of the year, the sun never crests the top of the mountains that line the Skutulsfjörður fjord. Today, however, the year’s first rays of the sun will shine over Ísafjörður and the village residents will celebrate this ‘sun-coming’ with a Sólarkaffi, or Sun Coffee, of coffee, homemade pancakes, and whipped cream.

“The shortest day of the year is December 21st and then the next time the sun is seen [in Ísafjörður] is January 25th,” explains Guðmundur Fr. Jóhannsson, who is the chairman of a society of Ísafjörður ‘expats’ who live in Reykjavík. “But if we go a just a little further back, it’s actually around November 16th that the sun starts to disappear from Sólgata,” he says, talking about ‘Sun Street,’ which runs through the centre of the village. “So it’s around two months, or 70 days, during which the sun isn’t visible. So there’s a real occasion to celebrate when the sun shines on Sólgata again.”

The Sólarkaffi tradition is so much beloved of Ísafjörður residents—or Ísafirdingar in Icelandic— that even those who have moved away still celebrate it. In fact, The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík has held its own Sólarkaffi for almost 74 years. “The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík was founded in April 1945 and held its first Sólarkaffi in 1946. It’s been held continuously ever since,” says Guðmundur. The Reykjavík event began as a simple Sunday afternoon gathering but has since turned into a Friday night dinner and dance. This year’s event will be held at Grand Hotel Reykjavík.

The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík, which currently boasts almost 600 members, hosts a number of social events throughout the year, as well as keeping a house in Ísafjörður that members can use. Originally, it was founded to ensure that Ísafirðingar didn’t lose touch with their roots, even though they might live somewhere else. The group’s marquee event is the Sólarkaffi, which though a very personal celebration for former residents, is not, Guðmundur hastens to add, an exclusive one. “Obviously everyone is welcome and you don’t have to be a member to [to attend].”

Costa Considers Opening Location in Iceland

Costa, the second-largest coffeehouse chain in the world, is proposing to open a franchise in Iceland, Vísir reports. The corporation is currently considering locations in downtown Reykjavík, although it is not currently known who will hold the franchise license in Iceland.

Costa, which was established by Italian immigrants to Britain in 1971, is the largest coffeehouse chain in Britain and operates 3,800 locations in 32 countries worldwide, the majority of which are in Britain. A spokesperson for the corporation says that the company’s goal is to operate 1,200 coffeehouses in China before 2020. The corporation was purchased in 1995 by Whitbread, which also owns and operates Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in Britain.