If you’re traveling to Sweden one of the most important words you need to know is “fika”.
Even more important is the meaning of fika. The simple version is that it is just an expression for having coffee or being on a coffee break, often complimented with some sweet pastries. The fact that Sweden is one of the biggest consumers of coffee emphasises the importance of the fika-tale.
But what distinguishes this exclusively scandanvian cultural tradition from any other country’s coffee ceremonies? For the Swede possessed with a true fika-soul it’s got a lot more essence to it. Fika can be a way of interacting, an activity for the day, a time to work or an escape to just be by yourself . It’s an imbedded cultural trait that embodies another important word in the Swedish vocabulary: “mysigt” which translates directly to “cosy”. You strive for the intimate cosiness of feeling a home away from home.
The Swedish fika is not like that Italian espresso that you grab in a hurry and depending on the situation a fika can take several hours. As said earlier fika is a very versatile activity and it can look different depending on the style, feeling or purpose with it. There is the “Bestfriend-Fika”, “Date-Fika” (with an alternative version of “Fashion-Fika”), “Study/Working-Fika”, “Me-time-Fika”, the list is endless!
Description in one word: Catching-up
Approximated duration: 2-5 hours
Purpose: Just enjoying each others company and talk about everything under the sun.
Cost: Can be quite expensive considering the estimated time and the amount of coffee and sweets you will have time to eat.
Quantity: As often as possible
Description in one word: Alone-time
Approximated duration: 1-6 hours
For many the thought of going to a cafe by oneself can be quite intimidating. Don’t let that stop you. Being able to just spend time by ourselves in public is nothing to be ashamed of and is rather something you should embrace. Bring a notebook and doodle, write something, read a book or just sit and enjoy your coffee while looking at the surroundings and people passing by on the street. It can be a moment to reflect or just let your mind go blank and quiet
Cost: Same here, it can become quite expensive considering how long you end up sitting.
Quantity: As often as possible
We manage to get a quick interview and peek into the Swedish Barista Champion of 2016, Steven Moloney’s coffee smelling life.
Photo credit: Lenise Ormsby
I met him at his workplace, Love Coffee Roasters in Lund. The small and picturesque cafe is perfectly furnished with a typical Nordic minimalism that at the same time manages to feel homey and cosy. I order a latte, sit down by the bar and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Its kind of a slow day at the cafe but Steven still flings back and forth between my questions and serving the customers.
photo credit: Fabian Schmid
So, you’re from Australia, when did you move to Sweden?
Three..ish years ago
How did you get into the coffee industry?
I have always enjoyed coffee. When I came to Sweden a few years ago, I got a job at a cute little cafe where my interest grew and I met some really good roasters, got a chance to try some really good quality coffee, different types and yeah, got in to it. I then got training from the then Swedish barista champion and since then I have just kept learning.
What do you think of the Swedish fika phenomenon?
I think it’s a Swedish religion. It’s good, it’s nice because it’s kind of an opportunity to come out and meet people, which in the cold dark winters of Sweden is kind of important. Otherwise you just get stuck working and going home. So it’s a nice public space to meet people in.
What is fika for you?
For me, fika is basically getting to hang out and catch up with some friends over coffee. Like most foreigners in Sweden, Fika was one of the most important words i had to learn in order to ingratiate myself into swedish society.
Because I work most days in the cafe, a real fika experience for me has to be on a day off, with plenty of time to relax and chat with friends. Even better if you can cram some delicious cinnamon buns in your mouth at the same time.
What is your favourite type of Fika?
Well, when I’m working, my favorite type of Fika customer is the “Study Fika”. I like to see students pretend to study for hours on end, even when we all can see they aren’t doing any real work at all.
Whats the most common coffee order for Fika?
I would have to say that is the classic Swedish “bryggkaffe” with “påtar” (refill). Tasty, good value and able to be consumed in large quantities, the perfect accompaniment to a long Fika session.
Okay! If not here in Lund at Love Coffee Roasters where should you go for a good cafe experience?
Ahhh, in Malmö, Koppi, Uggla Kaffebar, Solde Kaffebar Djäkne Kaffebar
If you are further interested in the mystery that is the Swedish fika culture then Fabian Schmid, an audiovisual media student from Switzerland, is producing a set of beautiful videos where the wonders of fika are even more explored –> Fika:to have coffee
Feature picture: Fabian Schmid
Tags: coffee, fika
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