Fika: the Swedish coffee break

The word fika (pronounced ‘fee-ka’) doesn’t translate to English very neatly. But it’s a word that’s worth learning, as you’re sure to hear it lots when you arrive in Sweden.

Fika is a big part of every Swede’s everyday life. Basically, fika just means to have a coffee. But it is so much more than just that. Fika describes a social atmosphere or a series of social associated behaviors that depend heavily upon coffee. Fika basically means to meet up for a coffee or and a piece of cake or pastry. Sweden enjoys a highly developed culture when it comes to baked goods and in Stockholm, you´ll find bakeries and cafés offering fika on every corner.

Where comes the word fika from?

The word fika was first coined in the 19th century. In modern Swedish, ‘kaffe’ means coffee, but in those days the word was ‘kaffi’. Fika came from reversing the syllables and slightly altering the word.

What´s on the fika table:

Essential for a fika is the cup of coffee. But, of course, not everyone likes it. To have tea, soda or any other drink instead is just as fine. Most Swedes combine their break with some pastry, called fikabröd. Among the most popular are kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), chokladbollar (chocolate balls) and biscuits.

Kanelbulle

The Kanelbulle, a kind of cinnamon bun, is a Swedish bakery specialty. It is one of Sweden’s best-known and most popular pastries and was introduced in the 1920s when the availability of baking ingredients increased after the First World War.

How Swedish people drink coffee

Coffee isn’t just coffee in Sweden. It’s a lifestyle. Sweden is in the top three of the world’s biggest coffee consumers (surpassed only by Finland and the Netherlands). Today you can get everything from a cappuccino to a café latte in Swedish cafes, but the good old standard remains classic, black drip coffee. Swedes have also been known to make kokkaffe, boiled coffee, and you’ll find a French press in many Swedish homes.

If you want to experience the typical life of the Swedish people, you have to have a fika in the afternoon or between breakfast and lunch. Here are listed some of our favorite cafés for a typical Swedish fika in Stockholm:

  • Café Pascal: you´ll find this cute café on a corner in Odenplan, this café was awarded for offering the best coffee in Stockholm
  • Fikabaren: this is a cozy café near the Metborgplatsen
  • Gast Café: is a small and minimalistic coffee shop offering amazing coffee, sandwiches, and light lunch
  • Kaffeverket: here you´ll get a wide variety of excellent coffees, Kaffeverket is very popular and earned in high ranking, the interior is typically Swedish and you have to come here to enjoy their amazing breakfast options
  • Fabrique: this is a chain of bakeries you´ll find all over the city, here you´ll find the best bread, pastries and delicious coffee, don´t miss out the popular blueberry buns!
  • Vetekatten: this traditional coffee shop is well known for traditional Swedish pastries of superior quality
  • Bröd&Salt: another chain offering freshly baked bread, pastries, baked goods and snacks

So, want to drink coffee like a Swede? Sit down with a friend, find a tasty treat and take a break from your everyday routine. After all, fika is about enjoying life.

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