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The East Iceland Coffee Company: From Iceland to Hoboken

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Coffee in America is different than elsewhere in the world. America seems to view coffee as fuel, as something to get us through the day. Elsewhere, coffee is much more of an occasion — a moment of respite on an otherwise busy day. That’s what the East Iceland Coffee Company, an online coffee merchant and subscription program, is bringing to Hoboken — all the way from Iceland. We had a chance to chat with the owners and are sharing the story of how East Iceland came to be.

east iceland coffee hoboken

{Photo credit: @easticelandcoffee}

East Iceland Coffee Company’s Roots

east iceland coffee hoboken

{Photo credit: @easticelandcoffee}

Thor Arbjornsson, 38, has a passion for coffee and the communal feeling it brings. Growing up in Iceland, Arbjornsson experienced the warm, unifying effect coffee can have. In Iceland, coffee isn’t a means to an end like it is here, it’s not only your morning “go juice.”

“Our dream is to have people slow down and enjoy the little things in life,” said Arbjornsson, “and use coffee as this thing that brings people together; have a beautiful conversation over a cup of coffee.”

Read More:  A Guide to the Coffee Shops of Hoboken

Arbjornsson lived in Iceland until he was 19 when he moved to America to attend Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio — studying opera. After graduation, Arbjornsson hit the road as an opera singer, and his touring career lasted 15 years  — which is quite the feat. As a young professional, Arbjornsson enjoyed the touring life, but as he got older and had two children, the road became a less interesting prospect. When Arbjornsson moved to Hoboken seven years ago, he began to envision a new way of life for his family.

“I know this town,” said Arbjornsson, “I love this town, and this just feels like it would be a perfect place to be a part of this community and start here.”

And so, Arbjornsson set out to bring his love of coffee, born in Iceland, to Hoboken. He began by learning as much as he could, taking classes, and attending workshops. Once he had a better understanding, Arbjornsson saw an opportunity for his future business.

 “People know what’s good and bad, people know light and dark, but people don’t have the words where you can put things together and say, ‘I like this coffee because of this,’ because we don’t have the language.

Approach to Coffee

east iceland coffee hoboken

{Photo credit: @easticelandcoffee}

“Ultimately, coffee and music are awfully similar,” said Arbjornsson. “You have to practice, practice, practice.”

And practice he did. With all he learned from workshops and classes, Arbjornsson had a clear vision for his coffee company: “Our cause is to bring fresh, exciting coffee to people with the least amount of impact on the planet,” said Arbjornsson.

And so, Arbjornsson set about sourcing the best coffee he could while also minimizing the business’s footprint. 

See More: A Guide to The Coffee Shops of Jersey City

“Our idea is to find coffees that people are familiar with,” said Thor, “but they have a little bit of a twist. They have something exciting about them.”

Arbjornsson sought out places people knew well for their coffee – Honduras, Uganda, Peru, Columbia, and Ethiopia – but with a key difference: balance.

“There’s a lot of coffee roasters out there who want to keep the quality of the bean,” said Arbjornsson, “which I totally get, so they tend to be high acidity, fruit notes, and not, in my opinion, well-balanced.”

Great care goes into the East Iceland Coffee Company’s products. Arbjornsson prides himself on quality, balanced, delicious coffee meant to be shared. This isn’t a gas station cup of coffee to keep you going on a long drive, this coffee is meant for company and conversation.

How “East Iceland” Works

east iceland coffee hoboken

{Photo credit: @easticelandcoffee}

“The process of how you buy your coffee should be pleasant,” said Arbjornsson. “It’s not just you jump into a coffee store, you buy it and go out.”

East Iceland Coffee Company is a coffee merchant, first and foremost, a place to buy some of the finest specialty coffees available. Offering an online-only coffee program and subscription service with free delivery to Hoboken and Jersey City. They have several core roasts: Columbia, Peru, Uganda, Guatemala,  and Brazil, as well as specials. 

Being that East Iceland Coffee Company is an online-only business, COVID-19 didn’t have a tremendous impact. They followed all precautions to the letter and did what was necessary, but “East Iceland” endures.

“We are here to help you have the best experience you could have,” said Arbjornsson.

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Born and raised in Bergen County, Christopher Goodlof fell in love with Hoboken when he took classes at Stevens. During that time, he seemed to be attempting in earnest to eat his way through Hoboken. As a musician in a national touring act, Christopher saw the country many times over, but always returned to the endearing and charming state of New Jersey. Graduating from Rutgers Newark, Christopher found a love for reporting about culture, entertainment, food, and people. In his spare time, Christopher can be found writing, painting, making music, cooking, reading, or playing with his dog, Jango.


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