Coffee is a highly important drink in all the Nordic Countries, therefore it is no surprise that Iceland is the 3rd highest coffee consumer in the world per capita, as the average Icelander enjoys up to 9kg of coffee every year. Coffee was introduced to a few privileged and wealthy Icelanders in 1703 by Árni Magnússon, a scholar and collector of valuable manuscripts that acquired a quarter pound of coffee beans. Coffee remained a rarity until the middle of the 18th-century: by the end of the 1700s almost every household had their own roaster and grinder. At first consumed only on Sundays, over time coffee drinking became a daily habit, and Icelanders ended up enjoying several cups throughout the working day. The coffee imported to Iceland was raw, green coffee beans, therefore roasting coffee became a craft that was generally quite hard to master for the average household: the goal was to produce an even roast with a certain dark colour and the distinctive shiny gloss on the beans. During the 19th and 20th century it became common to add kaffibætir, dried chicory root, to the ground coffee, making it very bitter, a feat that is even mentioned in several national poems. Despite the influence of the Norwegian kokekaffe (‘steeped coffee’), also known as ketilkaffi in Icelandic, the most traditional coffee brewing method was using a cloth filter; during the 1940s and 1950s industrial roasters eventually replaced the home roasting tradition. Weird as it sounds, superstitions and folklore still play an important role in an extremely forward-thinking and modern society like Iceland, so here follow a few superstitions related to coffee: 1. if guests are served coffee in a cup that doesn’t match the saucer (þrælapar in Icelandic), it means that they will either have an affair or remarry 2. refilling your cup before you have finished your first serving means that you will get an unbearable mother-in-law 3. in the early 20th century, you were to put sugar into the cup before the milk, otherwise the spirits would make sure you wouldn’t marry for seven years 4. drinking coffee when it was still scolding hot made you ugly, whereas enjoying coffee at a colder temperature made you more beautiful 5. sediment at the bottom of your finished cup of coffee is generally seen as a good sign.
Coffee, Food & Drinks, Iceland, Scandinavia