Fika - pronounced fee-ka - is a Swedish word that roughly translates as ‘to have coffee’. But fika is so much more than just a cup of coffee - it’s a concept integral to Swedish living. So what is exactly does fika entail?
Fika is a national institution in Sweden, and a tradition that has been upheld for years. In its rawest form, it’s essentially a coffee break; a good excuse to slow down and spend some quality time with people you like. Friends will fika together, family will meet up for a fika, or you can fika with work colleagues. In fact, many Swedish business have two fikas to break up the day.
Which leads us on to the question, when is a good time to fika? The correct answer, of course, is anytime you like – this is Sweden, and everyone loves to fika! Fika is normally taken in the morning or afternoon, preferably both, and sometimes in the evening too. The more fika the better.
So what do people drink when they fika? Well, fika should really involve good Scandinavian coffee; the Nordic countries drink the most coffee out of pretty much everyone in the world according to recent findings. This is normally filter coffee: strong, and gallons of the stuff. If you don’t like coffee, you’re not allowed to fika. Just kidding – tea is also an acceptable fika beverage too.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a true fika without accompanying sweet treats; these can come in the form of cake, pastries, cookies or even open-faced sandwiches. A classic fika snack is the kanelbullar or cinnamon buns. Kanelbullar are loved so much by the Swedes that they have even been given their own national day; Cinnamon Bun Day falls on the 4th October each year and is celebrated with vigour. Kanelbullar are sweet, buttery, cinnamon-y swirls of tastiness that go beautifully with all that coffee. Have a go at making your own cinnamon buns with this easy recipe.
Fika can take place wherever you like as well: at home, at the workplace, in coffee shops or at the park. And fika doesn’t have to be about bonding with friends or work colleagues: it’s also totally okay to fika solo, and spend a bit of quality time with you.
Above all, fika is about taking time out from hectic lifestyles and all that frantic hurrying about. This cherished custom is all about taking a moment to sit down, reconnect and enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures – coffee, cake and good company. It doesn’t have to take long – sometimes fika only lasts for ten minutes, sometimes it can last for hours – but it should be a chance to slow down, to enjoy the moment you are in and the hot cup of coffee in your hand. In a world so preoccupied with rushing around, I think we could all use a bit of fika in our lives.