Swedes love their coffee breaks, and the cities are packed up with coffee shops. You can find both big chains like Espresso House and small, personal cafés. But the Swedish fika tradition is much more than going for coffee or taking a coffee break.
I’m not Swedish (although my lineage is partly) but after having lived there, I think I have somewhat understood the concept. Fika is not just about coffee – or kanelbulle – nor taking a break. It is a social phenomenon combining a socialising break over coffee. It goes to the core of the Swedish culture. It’s not about rushing up for a takeaway coffee, although it doesn’t need to happen in a café. You can fika at home, at work, in a park or a cafe – it’s not about the location. It’s not necessarily even about coffee, as tea is okay for fika as well.
What to eat when having fika?
Usually, you will have some fikabröd (baked goods like kanelbulle aka cinnamon buns, pies, cookies or savoury sandwiches) to go with your coffee. Again, having the right kind of snacks is not the most important thing. Fika means slowing down, finding time to spend with your loved ones and enjoying the small moments and things.
You will find that Swedes often use fika as a verb: “Ska vi gå och fika?”
Can you fika alone?
You would usually have fika with other people, and many people think that is not possible to fika alone. In my opinion, you can have fika by yourself. As long as you are taking a break, having a cup of coffee (or even tea) and something tasty to eat and spending quality time with yourself, I would consider it fika.
At Swedish workplaces, you will usually have fika breaks during the day. Going for fika can occur at any time of the day, also in the evening. If you are in Stockholm around the Christmas time, be sure to check my guide to the local Christmas markets. There are a few special fika place tips, as well.
I think fika is those kinds of traditions that make every day a bit better tolerated. It is a simple way to add more quality moments in your day. So, take a break, call a friend and enjoy your fika! 🙂
Have you heard of the Swedish fika tradition? Do you like the concept?