Sweden is one of the world’s top coffee consuming nations, and the twice-daily social coffee break known as fika is a cherished custom. It is more than just a cup of Swedish coffee. This Swedish tradition is carried out as least once a day and I firmly believe that this might be the number one reason Swedes are so happy. It’s not because of the free healthcare or the free means to a higher education or even the eighteen months of maternal and paternal leave. No, it’s because life without fika would just be unthinkable!
Functioning as both a noun and a verb, fika is the moment you take a break with a cup of coffee (can also be substituted with tea) and a baked good, like mum’s apple cake, to go with it. And fika is almost always done with friends. But the most important thing is that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.
When spending time in Sweden, you will often hear the question, “Ska vi fika?” meaning “Shall we fika?” but it’s more than just: “Want to meet up and grab coffee?” It means: “Let’s take a break, slow down, and spend some time together.” Fika isn’t just an afternoon pick-me-up; it’s a time to appreciate life.
In many places, like the US, coffee is equated with speed – we drink it to wake up, we grab a latte on the go, we reach for that second cup of lukewarm coffee at the office. Sure, coffee provides energy, but it shouldn’t be consumed simply as a means to keep going, rather it should be consumed during a time of slowing down. To truly fika requires making time for a break in the midst of your routine.
Life is meant for living, which means life should be fueled by fika.