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Fika – Swedish for coffee break

Swedes call many peculiar customs their own. I already mentioned Fredagsmys, or big holidays like Midsummer.
So today I will be talking about another very Swedish custom. The custom of fika

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So yes, there you got it. But how much more is it really?
First things first. Swedes prefer not to have an exact translation in English or any other language for that matter, since they fear that the meaning of the word itself will get lost. So we all just have to call it by its name and hope to understand it right.
And now let me start by explaining the following, in order to get closer to why there is fika to begin with:

Swedes are a nation of order. Let’s better call it system rather than order. There is a health system, an education system, a maternity/paternity system, and the list goes on and on.
Swedes are also a nation that works. And I don’t mean in common sense work. I mean that everybody works. Adults, graduates, students, high school students with internships… Swedes work, they work hard and they like to work. And they pay high taxes, that in return pay for all the systems, I mentioned before. So we could call it a virtuous cycle.

Since everything is so perfectly organized with work, health, education, etc, Swedes also like to ta det lungt, in other words, to take it easy. And during the hard working days that means fika.

Unlike Americans who have a very competitive working environment and taking a coffee break, lunch break or bigger breaks like let’s say holidays, is translated into laziness, lack of affection for one own’s job, preference of one own’s private life and more or less an incapability to perform, Swedes believe that a happy person with a happy private life will perform better at work. It is highly recommended to take those breaks in form of fika as in coffee break, or lunch break (nobody eats lunch at their desk while working) and in broader sense also holidays that Swedes can use up to six weeks in 365 days. Swedes believe that happy mothers will do tremendous things at their job, so they are allowed to take those 480 days off with 80-90% of their salary being transferred onto their accounts every month. 90 of those days are reserved for fathers who are encouraged to bond with their children.

To cut the story short: Swedes work their fingers to the bone but they make sure they get rewarded. Every day. Many times a day.

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Fika at Il Caffè, one of my favorites in SoFo.

Fika is the first break in the day. And it is much more than just having a coffee. It is, I might say a social phenomenon, a valid reason to take a moment for quality time. Usually happening in the morning, it is not limited to mornings only, fika can happen at any time of the day. One can have it at home, at work or in a café. It can be with colleagues, family, or friends. And it is a tradition observed frequently, preferably several times a day.

What Swedes love with their fika, and here comes the part that I do not fancy that much, since I will have a candy overdose if taken regularly, are accompanying sweets. Mostly kanelbullar, otherwise also called cinnamon buns, but also other kinds of cakes, cookies, or even open-faced sandwiches qualify as a fika add on. It is no surprise that Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world.

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The best kanelbullar in town. Café Saturnus.

I have many favorite cafés where I regularly take my fika, but lately I hang out mostly at Fikabaren. Fikabaren is a newly opened café in SoFo. It is spacious and decorated in Scandinavian style, which means neutral colors, simple furniture with emphasis on lights and art work. I like to stay there for a longer time, I get everything that I need with delicious coffee from Drop Coffee Roasters and healthy snacks like porridge and I can bring my laptop and work. The atmosphere is just great.

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Entrance at Fikabaren.

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My usual spot at Fikabaren.

See you there.
xx Azra/Swedish Avenue

Swedish Avenue September 29, 2016