“It doesn’t matter where you’re from – or how you feel… There’s always peace in a strong cup of coffee.” ― Gabriel Bá,
Coffee in the United States has become somewhat of pop culture. Get in line, order the most complicated, tongue-twisting combination of caffeine on the menu, and drink it from the paper cup in your car on your way to wherever it is you’re going
In Sweden, it’s just the opposite. The coffee break, calledfika, is actually an opportunity to unwind, socialize and refresh.
Which one sounds more appealing to you?
Origin of Fika
The word “fika” (pronounced fee-ka) derives from the Swedish wordkaffe,as a type of back slang originating in the 19th century where syllables of a word were reversed, (fikafromkaffi).
Fika is both a noun and a verb. You can drinkfika(coffee) or you canfikaat work (coffee break).
While many other cultures have coffee breaks, the Swedes don’t consider it a dash for caffeine. Instead, it’s considered a social institution, and even has roots in law. In fact, employees are entitled to a five-minute break every hour, accrued into 15-minute fika breaks. It’s a chance to rejuvenate around a mug of the steaming beverage and fikabröd(fika bread), a sweet pastry like a cinnamon roll. It’s not a time to check email, but to discuss personal interests.
Fika is also used in the Scandinavian dating process. One can invite a person of interest to fika without the pressure of a formal date, with each person paying for their own treats. It’s an informal way to have a conversation to see if there is a mutual attraction.
The tradition of fika is also practiced in other Scandinavian countries and is starting to spread around the world. After partaking in the fika menu myself, I’m hoping to take it back to my home in the USA, as well.
Partaking at the Pensionat
Our car veers onto an old wooden bridge, taking us off the main street of Mörtfors Village and onto a dirt road. A simple sign at the crossroad reads “Mörtfors Pensionat.” With a shimmering blue lake on the left, our destination comes into view. The Pensionat guest house with its picturesque setting preserves the character of the last century.