We have all taken a fika at some point. It may have been earlier today, at the weekend, or maybe you are about to take one now. You might take a fika with a friend, a family member or even a stranger. We are talking about a break of sorts that nearly always involves coffee, cake and conversation. Fika is a Swedish term that is more a moment in time rather than another word for a coffee break, there is an important social foundation that differentiates it from grabbing a coffee on the go. Fika is about socialising over coffee and something sweet, it’s about having valuable time with friends and taking time out for yourself. And the best thing about how the Swedes see fika is that you can never have too many.
Sweden is a leading consumer of coffee, drinking on average five cups a day (on par with the Finnish). But what makes fika more than just the quality coffee is the ample amount of sugary, buttery goodness that goes with it, and because fika is about sharing, it makes the indulgence virtually calorie free*.
Coffee shops in general are considered as a ‘third place’, a valued environment after the home and the workplace. But traditionally Swedes consider the social phenomenon of fika not to be bounded by walls, you can take a fika anywhere.
But of course, this is Britain and sometimes it is just easier to stay indoors.
It’s hard to believe that after all this talk of coffee being so ingrained in Swedish culture that there was once a time when coffee was banned periodically in the country. Coffee first arrived in Göteborg in 1685, imported from the Arabic world and was initially sold as a medical remedy in pharmacies. It quickly spread amongst the upper class, becoming the drink of choice for the rich and intellectual. However it all took a sour turn when the National Health Authority raised concerns about excessive consumption. The following year coffee was taxed heavily as a means to reduce use. Then, in 1756, coffee was prohibited. The prohibition ended in 1769 but that was not the last of the restrictions. Sweden saw three further periods of prohibition that was monitored by “coffee police” leading to an underground movement of coffee drinking. Because coffee was so expensive it had a significant effect on national trade, resulting in these periods of prohibition which lasted between two and five years.
Thankfully Sweden has a much more embracing relationship with coffee now. In fact, you will find Swedish coffee roasters Koppi on our retail shelves and in our aeropress right now.
The morning is a perfect time as any to take a fika. Whether it is before work, after you have taken the kids to school or when you have hit a wall whilst doing that major project – call a friend to catch up or come have a chat with us, we are a friendly bunch. Our cinnamon buns are toasty warm in the morning after coming out the oven at 8am, paired with a strong flat white or a lovely, milky latte will get you in the right mind set for the rest of your day.
If your fika time is later on, get your hands on one of our cardamom speckled sultanabollers, think scandi toasted tea cake, and satisfy your belly and mind.
Here at Baltzersen’s we see many of you take what you can now refer to as a fika. Drinking your coffee of choice, meeting a friend, catching up, but some of you need to improve on your sweet treat addition to make it an official fika, there is always a good excuse you see.
*Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this.