Do You Fika? A Swedish Custom

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is a Swedish custom, a kind of social coffee break where people gather to have a cup of coffee or tea and a few nibbles. Fika is such an important part of life in Sweden that it is both a verb and a noun. Do you fika? If so, tell us more about this delicious-sounding tradition!

Having never experienced fika in person, I am by no means an expert. But what I can gather from friends and especially from the photo blog of the wonderful Sweden-born, Berlin-based artist Sandra Juto, fika is close to what we would call a coffee break here in the States but with some key differences.

Unlike British tea, fika can happen at any time of day. It seems to be a social event, too, something you invite people to join you in. It usually involves coffee or tea but can be cold drinks like lemonade. It can be taken at home or in a cafe.

Having accompanying treats is an important part of fika. Breads, coffeecakes, croissant, muffins, cookies, cake — any of these treats are appropriate fika fare. You can also indulge in the savory side, with slices of cold meats, cheese and bread, hard boiled eggs or a small sandwich. I’ve seen small platters with vegetables like radishes and carrots, plates of pickles and smoked fish. It seems like fika is mostly finger food, with the occasional fork thrown in.

What I like most about fika is that it’s about pausing in the middle of your day to enjoy a little something with friends. This gathering together to nourish the body must also nourish the heart as well. The closest I come to this here in the States is an occasional coffee with friends. Close, but not quite the same thing. Somehow having fika be a part of a culture seems to bring another element to it. We don’t ‘coffee’ here, after all!

Are any of you familiar with fika? Did I miss anything here? Let us know in the comments.