Sweden’s national past time – Pastry eating!
If there is one word that you need to know when coming to Sweden (to visit or live here) it is fika. At its core, fika means to have a coffee, but it is really so much more than that.
Fika is a way of life in Sweden and happens multiple times a day. During a fika friends or colleagues will get together to sit down and enjoy a coffee, a sweet treat, and each other’s company. Having a fika also works for meeting someone new. Essentially, it is a universally accepted request for anything and everything in Sweden. If you want to see a Swede, ask hen (him or her) for a fika.
Fika is a relaxed, casual time. Its informality makes it accessible to everyone and less intimidating, especially for networking or dating. Fika can be anything from 10 minutes to two hours. During the work day, fika is usually under 30 minutes and is known as a fikapaus, or coffee break. The typical times for fika in Sweden is 10:00 and 15:00, and most employees are expected to join for them. During the fikapaus, coworkers have a chance to catch up with each other, exchange knowledge and opinions, and form stronger bonds.
The 15:00 fika time is so prevalent throughout Sweden that when my partner and I first moved here, an employee at the tax office (Skatteverket) told us that he would have to wait to make an important call about our personnummer (or the Swedish equivalent of a social security number) until fika time ended! In Sweden, fika waits for no one.
So now that you know about fika, where should you go? Well, you’ll find a cafe on almost every block, but here are some of my favorites:
- St: Jakob’s – This is my favorite chain in Skåne. My partner and I went four times during our first six days in Sweden – it is that good. Now, the bakery is very nostalgic for us. Their scones are particularly amazing.
- Love Coffee – Some of the best coffee in Sweden!
- Balck Coffee – My other favorite coffee roaster in Sweden. You can try their coffee in cafes in Kalmar and Helsingborg.
- Cafe Husaren – You will find their famous Hagabullen in Gothenburg.
- Mormors Stenugnsbageri – Sweden’s best kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) can be found on the island off the coast of Kalmar, Öland.
- Stockholm has so many great options, but some of my favorites are Johan & Nyström, Drop, and Foam.
- Fika is both a noun and a verb.
- Tea and other drinks also work for fika, but Swedes love their coffee!
- They love their kaffe so much in fact that in 2012 the average Swede consumed 7.32 kg / 16 lb of coffee. For comparison, the average in the EU was 4.83 kg / 10.6 lb at the time.
- This puts Swedes in the top three biggest coffee consumers in the world.
- Avoid making important business calls at 10:00 and 15:00 – it is likely that the person you are trying to reach will be away from their desk and refilling their coffee mug.
- Ask if your bryggkaffe (filtered or brewed coffee) includes påtår (refills) to stretch your Swedish krona further.
- Coffee in Sweden is quite dark (some have described it as “tar like”), but the Swedes love it and think coffee around the rest of the word is weak (which it is, in comparison). If you are like me, you might need to build up a tolerance to Swedish coffee over time. Or ask for it with some milk – but only Oatly!
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!