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An Ice(lan)d Kaffi Break – Iceland and Coffee

{A Brief New Icelandic Saga, As told to J.B. Pravda, ‘Beyond the Break’ Scrivener, by Enrique Sanchez-Rivera}

I see a red door below the black-lettered 3D shingle sign and imagine Mick Jagger having been there too, perhaps not long ago before me, or perhaps after, ha, that famous Rolling Stones riff, there in my cabeza–he wanting it painted black–the color I want, too, but not for any door, especially one so welcoming, no, black only for the rich secretly blended coffee at MOKKA where I am greeted by the sweet white-linen clad barista, Ms. Sigrún Eir.

And behind the still-red door I am in an ambience which I am told has remained unchanged since 1958; as we engage in the sort of reparte the internationally savored bean seems to conjure, I’m shown the almost coffee-colored sepia tone photo of the founders who acquired their love of the brew whilst living in Italy.

My Colombian mind is laden with the pedigree of my homeland’s storied beans while it frames the moments, thusly:

“Hot kaffi, warm barista, cool Reykjavik…..”

Within this frame, the following ‘pictures’ are mounted.

Returning her cool friendly smile, I allowed that her establishment had been recommended: “I’m here with Ari, and Johannes…I bought their books, and they were kind enough to engrave them for me, the photographs are beautiful, I bought some for my home in California….”

“ Oh, yes, I know Ari’s work, and, he’s here quite often, so he knows ours! Many people have wished to cause this shop to be acquired for a chain, but they do not wish to do this, the owners of SIGURR KAFFI MOKKA wish to keep the business in the family. You know, they had the first espresso machine in the whole city.” Another gift of Italian alimentary culture, I smile-thought.

As we chatted during her break, we went beyond the (ahem) simple pleasantries, and I discovered that despite coffee culture being somewhat new to her, she had had as a child a kind of inexplicable (to her at the time) fantasy of having her own coffee shop!

“In fact, my being here came about on the spur of the moment, I applied here and was hired. Who knows, maybe it will come true!” both of us sensing that, however it had come to be applied to her, that spur was the same sort those of another cold clime, Scotland, had in mind in nicknaming a Shakespearean nobleman Hotspur–readiness to achieve.

I, too, was spurred to share the worldwide search by coffee makers who go all over, seeking great beans. “ I understand such feelings, you know, it’s my goal to experience great coffee in every country I may visit, what about you, have you such a yen, for travel, or coffee, or both?”

“ I plan to visit Cuba…I so hope it doesn’t change!” her eyes percolating with excitement at the very prospect of ‘otherness’, the alure of pride of place and bean. After warning her of some of the local habits of vendors there, I had found the right moment of truth.

“ Speaking of sugar, you have been so..sweet, you should come to San Luis Obispo and be barista for a week at our favorite coffee shops!”


I’m a surfer, donning my ethically made LA ISLA swimwear .>)), a morning ritual, as is coffee; as I hugged Sigrún Eir and left MOKKA I thought of how distant Iceland and its sourced beans must be; as a child in Colombia I learned that coffee houses began in Mecca–a smile broke upon my face like a great ocean wave on the shore of my consciousness–and like some religious observer, you and I return, daily, to this Mecca of all drinks, in prayerful appreciation not simply for its gifts but the gift of friendship its consumption may yield, especially in Reykjavik, now home to its latest of many storied Icelandic Sagas: ‘Mokka, A New Mecca’.

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