What Is Swedish Fika 1

What is Swedish Fika? A delicious Fika definition

What is Swedish Fika?

Fika is a coffee break — Swedish style. Swedes have periods of Fika throughout the day to help them refresh their minds and make the most of the day. 

Commonly, Fika just translates to “coffee and cake,” but it’s a lot more for most Swedes. Fika is a state of mind, a crucial part of Swedish culture, and a must-have part of any day. 

Fika isn’t just about stocking up on caffeine. This mini-break focuses more on the importance of making time for friends, family, and colleagues in your everyday life. 

You can’t enjoy Fika at your desk on your own just because you have cake and coffee. 

Crucially, however, you can still have Fika with a sandwich and a cup of tea. The idea is you’re having a moment of socialization and relaxation with something which nourishes your body. It’s all about feeding the body and the soul. 

What Is Swedish Fika 2

Fika in Sweden: A history

So, where on earth did Swedish Fika come from?

The original world Fika appeared way back in the 19th century, with the word “Kaffi” (coffee for non-Swedes). However, the Swedes ended up switching the positions of the syllables and removed one of the “f’s,” creating “Fika.” 

These days, Swedish coffee culture is a huge deal for the locals. Everywhere you go, you’ll find stores dedicated to coffee and people sipping on coffee throughout the day. You might also be surprised to learn coffee wasn’t always available in Sweden. 

The reason the word “Kaffi” first appeared in Sweden was because the drink had been banned several times in the country. 

Some Swedes weren’t sure on the rules of drinking coffee in Sweden, which led to a number of groups coming up with a secret word they could use when they wanted to meet up for a delicious cup of java. 

Since then, it’s fair to say coffee has become a more natural part of Swedish life once again, but locals still use the word Fika every day. 

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What is Swedish Fika? Let’s define Fika

At first glance, Fika might seem like just another quirk of Swedish culture

However, there’s something crucial about Fika which goes right to the heart of the Swedish people.

Sweden locals believe it’s important to take some time out of your busy day — no matter how hectic your schedule is. Taking a second to socialize refreshes the mind, but it also means you concentrate on building the important relationships in your life. 

Even businesses throughout Sweden believe in encouraging Fika. Many believe making time for Fika in the company improves productivity and reduces staff turnover

The term “Fika” is flexible. You can say “Let’s go Fika coffee and cake”, or you can say you want to take some time for Fika. You might even bake something sweet at home to take into the office for Fika. 

Although the standard Fika definition suggests coffee and cake, there aren’t any real hard and fast rules about what you eat during this time. 

Ultimately, the best option is something small, light, and fresh. Homemade products are always best for Fika because they’re naturally more intimate. Warm drinks are another top choice, simply because they mimic the warmth you feel when spending time with loved ones. 

How long is a Fika break?

Fika is a common practice in the Swedish office or workforce. In many places, Fika falls into the daily schedule, just like your lunch break. You might stop for a Fika break at 10am, just after you get to work. 

When you’re starting to feel rundown, and you need to get your second wind, you have a second Fika time at around 3pm. 

The amount of Fika time you get in Sweden will depend on where you work and the strategy the company uses. For instance, you might only get 10 minutes in some parts of the country, but up to 30 minutes of Fika coffee in others. 

Swedish coffee culture ensures you won’t get bonus points from your boss if you decide to avoid your Fika break and put some extra work in instead. For many companies, making time for Swedish Fika is an important part of showing your commitment to your company. 

It’s an opportunity for networking and a chance to show your part of the time. 

Fika can be a way to bond with colleagues and improve the overall feeling in the company. This might be why Swedes spend about 9.5 days in total each year, having Fika. 

What Is Swedish Fika 3

What’s the best Fika food? 

The best Fika food depends on you!

In general, most people will stick to having a coffee cup during Fika — but Swedish coffee culture is pretty big. If you’re not a coffee fan, you can have another drink, but something warm and nourishing is often best. 

Most Swedes having Fika in Sweden will combine their coffee (or hot drink) with pastry. There’s actually a term for the Fika cake you can eat “Fikabrod.” 

Some of the most popular options include:

  • Cinnamon bunds
  • Chocolate balls
  • Biscuits

Warming foods are common in Fika, particularly during the winter months. Anything with cinnamon is a great choice, but you can always experiment with different flavors throughout the year. 

There are many locations throughout Sweden which specialize in Fika-based treats and use the tradition as an opportunity to showcase Sweden’s patisserie skills. 

Princess cakes with whipped cream are a fantastic choice for the warmer months of the year, and you can also find plenty of delicious strawberry cakes when the season is right too. The food you pick doesn’t matter as much as knowing how to enjoy it with someone you love. 

Fika is designed as a way to satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy a meaningful moment or two with the people who matter most in your life. 

Knowing where to Fika?

Fika is common all over Sweden, with various cafes and restaurants in Stockholm and Gothenburg offering places where you can sit and enjoy your coffee. The ideal place to enjoy a Fika coffee and cake is somewhere you can feel comfortable and be close to friends. 

It’s common to have Fika by candlelight or in a cozy corner of your office. 

You can invite someone home for Fika if you know them well, but you probably shouldn’t do this if you’re meeting someone for the first time. If you don’t like meeting up with someone, you can just enjoy Fika with whoever is around at the time. 

Fika frequently happens in the Swedish dating scene too. You’ll generally spend a little longer on Fika during your leisure time than you would at work. You can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours enjoying time with your pals or meeting someone new. 

Since Fika is frequently enjoyed by candlelight, it can make for a romantic and intimate way to get to know someone if you’re looking for a new romantic partner. 

Want to learn more about Fika?

Fika is a beautiful part of the Swedish culture and certainly something we could all do with bringing into our lives a bit more. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to lose track of the things that matter — like spending time with loved ones. 

Maybe it’s time you brought the spirit of Fika into your life with your own Swedish sessions?

Discover your hidden Fika with these great resources from Amazon:

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
Shining light on Swedish Midsommar
Getting a taste for surströmming
Welcome to the Swedish crayfish party
The meaning of Lagom in Sweden
The history of Swedish fish sweets

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