FIKA: The Swedish Art of Having Coffee

WHAT IS FIKA? 

In its basic form, Fika is how the Swedish go or meet for coffee, usually with friends to chat and catch up, or to network with colleagues during a busy day.

Fika is both the same and vastly different from how we go for coffee in the rest of the world.  In Sweden, taking a break from the workday to have coffee is a daily ritual in an art form, very much like Danish hygge, its meaning does not directly translate but is integrated into Sweden’s everyday cultural life. 

Fika is both a noun (fika) and a verb (to fika).  A Swedish colleague may tell you, “It is time to fika.” Or they may say, “You and I will fika well together.”

Fika is not just about coffee or tea, or even about the yummy pastries (the famous Swedish sweet sticky bun) and other baked goods that are served; well it actually is but that comes later… fika is more about the comfortable companionship that goes with the experience. 

Fika is about slowing down and taking time.  It’s making sure to pause during a busy day and to take a moment to enjoy the good things in life.  It is not the North American ‘grabbing a coffee’ in a paper cup and sipping it through a flurried conversation with a friend. 

Fika is settling down in a café, ordering coffee and a pastry while sinking into a deep conversation to catch up with or reconnect with someone.  It is also a time to get comfortable with colleagues and enjoy a meaningful networking discussion. 

FIKA IN THE WORKPLACE

Fika, afternoon break in Sweden

Most Swedish workplaces have two fika breaks throughout the day; morning and afternoon that last about fifteen to thirty minutes.  Working through fika, as many are tempted to do in Canada or the US, is generally frowned upon in Sweden.  Swedish staff are expected to stop work to fika in the meeting room with colleagues as the consensus is that everyone should make time to slow down and socialize throughout the workday.  Productivity increases with Fika, as it is a time to discuss and exchange fresh ideas in a relaxed and informal workplace environment.

Sounds like Fika is a workplace safe space. 

THE FIKA PALATE

Now, back to the idea that sitting down to fika extends beyond the coffee, tea or soda served.  To enjoy a wonderful fika there needs to be pastries, preferably fresh and homemade.  The famous sweet cinnamon buns are mostly served along with other home-baked treats.  Swedes will often bake something at home to share for office place fika or to fika with a friend.   Restaurant, cafés or even in Swedish train dining cars, there is usually a fika special; coffee and a sweet bun, available. 

Presentation is also important, so don’t be surprised when the ‘nice’ dishes and cutlery are used and artfully arranged on the table.  Remember fika is special and about taking the time to make a small part of your day exceptional.  

Enjoy it fully with friends and colleagues wherever you are in the world.

_______________________________

APPLE CAKE RECIPE

Apple trees are common in Sweden so apple cakes with custard are very popular to serve during fika.

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 apples
  • 2 T each: milk, sugar and cinnamon

PREHEAT over to 200C

GREASE pan

WHISK butter and sugar.  ADD eggs one by one, whisking with the butter.  FOLD in dry ingredients then ADD milk.

PEEL and CORE the apples and cut into sections.  TOSS with sugar and cinnamon and PUT into the pan with the mixture.

BAKE  30 minutes

Recipe adapted from: https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/fika/https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/fika/

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