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Enjoy the Coffee Break! Take a Swedish "fika"

My favorite cup for strong, hot coffee!

My favorite cup for strong, hot coffee!

What Does "fika" Mean?

Do you sometimes feel a bit guilty when you take a coffee break at work? You really shouldn't, because a coffee break can be a positive thing both for you and your work. A coffee break can also be a success on a first date and is an important social event. Read on about how to take a coffee break the Swedish way, or as we call it; lets have a fika!

The word “fika” is a typical Swedish word, and as far as I know, there is no similar word in another language. A fika is not just to have a coffee or to take a pause, it is much more than that, and the most important thing with a fika is the social aspect.

What Time During the Day Are the Right Time for a Swedish Fika?

In Sweden, most people take a fika several times a day, and since we do a lot of fika we must distribute the coffee breaks evenly over the day; we have morning-fika, afternoon-fika, a fika after dinner, an evening-fika and sometimes during the day we probably also take a quick fika. The word fika can mean different things depending on the place, the situation and what to eat. But in this article, I will stick to the meaning of fika as a cup of coffee or tea and something small to eat.

Another way to describe how we distribute the Swedish fika over the day is: we drink coffee for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the evening meal, and we also have fika in between those meals!

So, as you can see, anytime during the day is the right time for a fika!

Some fact about coffee in Sweden

According to Wikipedia, Sweden is among the top countries when it comes to consuming coffee.

Adult Swedes consume on average 1200 cups of coffee per year or 11 kilo, which means that every adult person drinks four cups a day.

Finland is the top coffee consumer with 12,8 kg per grown-up citizen and year.

Some History About Coffee in Sweden

To drink coffee or to have a fika is an old tradition in Sweden and has been something of a culture for a long time. The coffee came to Sweden around year 1670 or 1680 and was at first considered to be a medication which only could be bought in a pharmacy. The taste for coffee grew rapidly and the first coffee shops opened after a while, with many more to follow. Coffee is still the number one social drink in Sweden, even if many Swedes drink a lot of tea as well.

Historically there were supposed to be at least seven different cookies, and preferably more than seven, when coffee was served, and the event was called a kafferep in Swedish (a coffee rope in English). It was a sort of an unwritten label rule, and historically it was also a way to compete between housewives, showing both standard and skill. The word kafferep in the old way, was unfortunately connected to gossip between females, but I think it was an important social event for housewives. Nowadays, we don't use the word kafferep so much, but it can be used whenever you are more than two people drinking coffee and talking.

My Coffee Consumption During an Ordinary Day

  • Two or sometimes three cups of coffee with breakfast
  • One cup of coffee at 9:30, a fika
  • One cup after lunch at 12:30
  • One cup at 14:30, a fika

Sometimes I meet friends in town and have a cup or two on a fika.

I normally don’t drink coffee later than around 18:00 in the evening because I can't sleep if I drink coffee too late at night.

Where Is the Right Place for a Swedish Fika?

You can have a fika practically everywhere and in every possible circumstance. We have a fika at home, at work, in the city on a café or in a park, in school, in the woods, on the field, at the gym, in a boat at sea, on the beach, in a neighbors house, in bed, at the hairdresser and in every shop where there is a coffee machine or a coffee maker or even in a spa. We can have a fika in a food store, at a market, at a sports event, at a funeral, at a birthday party or a wedding. We can have a fika before dinner as well as a cup after dinner. We can have a fika while we talk on the phone, while we travel by car or bus or tube or even while we do some shopping with friends. When you order dinner or lunch at a restaurant, there are usually one or two cups of coffee included in the price in Sweden. There are no rules besides that it is perfectly all right to have a fika everywhere you are and anytime you want!

So many different flavors of coffee!

So many different flavors of coffee!

The best coffee is made with a Percolator according to me!

The best coffee is made with a Percolator according to me!

The coffee

There are several different coffee varieties to buy in the grocery store, and you can get your coffee in any way you want. The grocery stores have coffee from all over the world, and it can be hard work to find the right sort for you.

The first you need to decide is how you want your coffee made; boiled, brewed, Prezzo or a coffee made by an advanced coffee machine.

After that, you have to decide the flavour and strength you want. Personally, I prefer coffee that is both boiled and brewed with a strong flavour and strength which gives me a coffee that is both hot enough as well as strong enough.

During the last few years, there has been an explosion of new ways to drink coffee and Sweden seems to have adopted all types of the world's ways of drinking coffee and made them Swedish. You can now go to the trendiest coffee shops and choose caffé latte, chai latte, espresso, frappino, coffee macchiato or cappuccino, and you can also combine your coffee with mineral water.

Personally, I still prefer to drink my coffee black and without sugar.

A Swedish Semla

A Swedish Semla

A Swedish wienerbröd, a Danish pastry.

A Swedish wienerbröd, a Danish pastry.

A Swedish kanelbulle, a cinnamon roll, homemade!

A Swedish kanelbulle, a cinnamon roll, homemade!

What to Eat on a Fika!

You can eat almost everything you want on a fika, but in Sweden, some types of cakes and pastries are more common to eat.

The most common pastry in February in Sweden is the Swedish Semla. A semla is a big delicious wheat bun with almond paste and a fluffy layer of cream on top.

Another pastry I can recommend is the Danish pastry which we call a wienerbröd. It is one of my personal favorites since there is nothing that can compete with a fresh, newly baked Danish pastry with a brittle texture and the lovely vanilla sauce in the middle and powdered sugar on top.

Besides the above-described pastries, there are many more pastries that are common on a Swedish fika, such as the Napoleon Pastry, the Budapest pastry and the Gustaf Adolf pastry, just to mention a few. Or you can have small cookies, a bit of ice cream or a cheesecake during fika if you prefer something smaller. Anything is ok to eat on a fika!

But the most common to eat on a Swedish fika at any time of the year must be the kanelbulle! A kanelbulle is basically a wheat bun filled with cinnamon, sugar and butter and pearl sugar on top.

Imagine a fika with homemade cinnamon buns! It is an indescribably flavor sensation that must be experienced. Watch the video below for the recipe and instructions on how to make Swedish cinnamon buns; try them out and enjoy!

Traditional Cakes and Pastries

There are some occasions during the year which require some specific cakes or pastries on a fika.

From December to Easter

The typical pastry in Sweden to a fika during this time is the Semla which is a wheat bun filled with almond paste and cream.

The Swedish National Day the 6 of June

On the Swedish National Day, we eat a national day pastry which consists of a mazarin bottom topped with strawberries, lemon balm and a Swedish flag.

Midsummer Eve

The typical pastry on Midsummer Eve is a cream cake which we normally eat after the dancing around the Maypole but also later at night.

12 December Lucia

On the 12 of December, we celebrate Lucia in Sweden, and the typical cake and pastry for Lucia are Ginger Thins and Lussebullar. A Lussebulle is a wheat bun with saffron and raisins.

Some Words That Are Good to Know

The word fika is a noun and is typically Swedish. But fika is also a verb and means to socialize while drinking coffee.

Påtår- which means a refill of coffee.

Kaffehalv- means a cup of coffee with half the cup or less depending on your taste with licker, preferably the Swedish brand Renat.

Kafferep- which in English would be “coffee rope.” (See above under Some history about coffee in sweden for explanation)

Fikabröd- In English fika bread, meaning everything you eat on a fika

Sju sorters kakor- which means seven sorts of cookies which was the minimal amount of different sorts of cookies that were considered to be enough on a real kafferep historically.

Mellanmål- a fika is a Swedish mellanmål which means a meal between any of the other more regular meals like breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Go-fika, a go-fika is a fika with especially tasty sweets, cookies, pasties or cakes. It is a real treat and a go-fika can be different for different persons meaning everything you really like.

The Benefits We Get From a Fika

Even though there are an enormous amount of different ways to drink coffee and an enormous amount of fikabröd the most important thing is to have a relaxed moment and some good company.

We will also perform better at work if we take a fika.

A fika at work is a perfect and natural way to socialize and build bands with your co-workers. We feel better when we socialize with other people, and it makes us work better together. We get a glimpse of our co-workers in a way we normally don’t get otherwise during work time. It is also a way to empty your brain and talk about personal things that aren’t work-related. To share personal things creates understanding and also a feeling of being a team, a community. And even if you talk about work during the fika you will get benefits in form of time to exchange information, to get as well as give fresh ideas to problems we may encounter in our daily work. A fika is a great way for co-workers as well as managers to meet informally and spread information about the organisation.

A fika gives us a moment’s rest, an opportunity to refill our brain with inspiration from others and a time to test ideas and thoughts on others.

The best place to start a conversation with someone you know is around a coffee machine at work or in a public place. Even a Swede finds it easy to talk around a coffee machine or in line in front of a coffee machine. There is always something to say, such as; how does this machine work? Or, it takes a while to get a cup here! Or, does the coffee taste well here? Or the usual, do you go here often?

If you want to be really popular among your co-workers you can buy them a really good fika. It is a really good way to get new friends, and everyone will be happy and impressed by your generosity.

Great Thing to Do on a First Date!

A fika is a perfect first date since a fika is a very common thing and to ask somebody out for a fika isn't such a big deal as to ask someone out for dinner. A fika is a relaxed way to get to know each other, and if it for some reason goes wrong, neither of you has suffered a big loss in money nor prestige.

But there is one thing you should think about when you ask someone out for a fika and that is to choose the right cake for your file. Choose a cake which is easy to eat and pay attention to your date. Later on, when you know each other better, you can eat all the creamy pastry you want, but for the first date, it is better to take something small or just a cup of coffee or tea.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on February 02, 2015:

I agree with you poetryman6969! There is always time for coffee:) Thanks for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment


poetryman6969 on January 09, 2015:

Any excuse to drink coffee and eat sweets can't be all bad!

Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 10, 2014:

Hi Jodah, I hope you will try a Swedish fika and all it takes is coffee or tea and some good friends. There is no need to eat something even though it is tasty:) Today I had an ice-cream to my afternoon fika and it was lovely! I will look for your poem about coffee and thanks for reading, for the vote and for the comment,

Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 10, 2014:

Hi RTalloni, I am so happy to hear that you liked this hub and I hope fika will be a success among your friends and family. A fika is always a good idea and with good company it can't go wrong:) Thanks for the lovely comment, I appreciate the support!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 10, 2014:

FlourishAnyway, Many people drink tea instead of coffee here too. More important is the social part so you can try a fika too! I appreciate the congrats and the comment, thanks!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 10, 2014:

Thanks padmendra, I appreciate the comment and I really hope you try a fika,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 03, 2014:

Thanks Linda and I hope you have a great fika! Hugs,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 03, 2014:

Hi Emma! I am thrilled to see someone from Sweden here at HubPages! I thought it was a good idea to write about a Swedish fika since it is very common in Sweden. It is far too good not to be exported:) Hah, thanks for the feedback about the pastries and fika for kids, I will see what I can do and make it clearer in the text that we don't eat pastry every day and also include information about fika for kids. Fika is more a social thing for me and I usually eat pastries only on special occasions.


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on April 03, 2014:

Hi Suzanne Day, I hope it will be a new trend in Australia! Keep on trying to convince your boss and explain the benefits for the workplace. Thanks for the comment and for reading, I appreciate the visit,


John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on March 29, 2014:

Great hub Tina, congratulations on Hub Of The Day. I had never heard of Swedish FIFA, so I have learnt something new today. I love a good cup of coffee and had just wrote a poem about it myself "Coffee in the Morning" but had to resubmit it as HP unpublished it due to some facts I included being "duplicate". Anyway voted up.

RTalloni on March 28, 2014:

Such a neat read! I wish we could hear your wonderful accent pronouncing the Swedish words. Thanks for this look at what a fika is. My friends will be wondering what I mean when I invite them to one and they will love the explanation. I will tell them of my swedish friend and direct them to your hub. :) Oh, and now I'm looking forward to teaching my grandchildren what a fika is--double thanks! :)

Oh me, this was so interesting I almost forgot to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award!

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2014:

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I liked the cultural twist you gave this topic. Congratulations on HOTD!

PADMENDRA S R from DELHI/NCR on March 28, 2014:

After reading your article, I would like to try fika at home to enjoy its taste. A wonderful Hub. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 28, 2014:

I'm going to have a fika (tea) break in honor of your HOTD! :)

Emma Lindhagen from Stockholm, Sweden on March 28, 2014:

Fun to see someone writing about a common occurrence in my home country! Fika is definitely a concept that should be exported, haha.

I will say though, you make it sound like we all have pastry 5-6 times a day, hah! Thankfully for our teeth and general health, fika can be had with healthier snacks or no snacks at all (as I can see from the comments you already know).

Personally I usually have tea for my fika rather than coffee, or maybe iced tea or lemonade in the summer ("saft" is, of course, also a common fika beverage for kids who don't drink tea or coffee yet).

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on March 23, 2014:

I can see fikas becoming a new workplace trend in Australia! I was trying to convince my boss we should have siestas too, but he wasn't into it. Voted awesome!

Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 23, 2014:

Hi teaches, coffee is important every morning and I couldn't get trough the day without coffee. I hope you will try some of the pastries and have a real fika with someone sometime, it is wonderful! I mostly drink just plain coffee and eat pastries only now and then. Otherwise I would grow in size without control:) Thanks teaches, I appreciate your visit here,


Dianna Mendez on March 18, 2014:

I would enjoy a fika. I must drink a cup of coffee every morning to get myself started, even though it is decaf. Those pastries look so wonderful. A wondeful post and so enjoyable.

Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

Hi PegCole, I was so happy to find the video with the lovely couple, they really make cinnamon buns in a wonderful way. I have used a similar technique for the process of forming cinnamon buns but I will try the way they suggested next time. Thanks for the comment and I hope you will have a real fika soon:)


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

Hi Alicia, I wish I could send you a Semla! But maybe you can find one at Ikea as crisSp suggested, if they have cinnamon buns they should also have a Semla. They are really tasty so I hope you try. Thanks for the visit Linda, it is always nice to "see" you,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

Hackslap, coffee is a necessity and a great way to socialize to. I am happy to give some new ideas to another avid coffee drinker:) Thanks for the visit and the comment and enjoy the coffee break!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

Hi vocal, good to know you got some inspiration for a fika from this hub. I wish we could have a fika in real life but we will have to settle with a virtual fika! Thanks for reading and for the comment, I always appreciate your visits in my corner and your encouraging comments.


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

Hi AudreyHowitt, that sounds like a wonderful idea! There is always time for a fika:) Thanks for treading and I appreciate the encouraging comment,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 16, 2014:

CrisSp, Good idea to mention Ikea, of course they will have cinnamon buns in almost every country where Ikea is! I start to feel the need for my coffee break right now, but unfortunately I don't have any cinnamon buns at home today.

I appreciate the comment very much,


Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on March 12, 2014:

This interesting hub and the video brought back such fond memories of my former workplace. The couple who presented the Swedish Cinnamon buns film were adorable and I was mesmerized with the process of forming the sweet dough rolls.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 10, 2014:

This is an interesting and enjoyable hub about the Swedish fika. I was happy that you mentioned the semla, too. I remember reading your hub on the topic. I've always wanted to try a semla ever since I read the hub! It sounds like a delicious pastry.

Harry from Sydney, Australia on March 10, 2014:

Interesting hub! . as an avid coffee drinker Im certainly going to give this a shot :)

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on March 10, 2014:

I'm all for a Fika anytime! How very interesting and educational this is. So glad you've shared this. Marvelous!

Audrey Howitt from California on March 10, 2014:

This is a delightful hub! Now I am off to have a fika!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on March 10, 2014:

Any coffee drinker would definitely enjoy reading this hub. I did! Thank you for sharing. I feel like driving to Ikea now (with my friends) for fika...cinnamon bun smells good out there!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

Hi Kathryn, it is good to know there are someone who also like to drink coffee and take a break. It is a winning concept! Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful week too!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

Hi Nell, Yes, it really is a social event and I believe that we solve things more easy because of it. Some days I simply don't have the time to relax due to deadlines or meetings and have to grab a cup of coffee and take it back to my office, but I love the real fika with socializing and all. It goes equally well with tea so you would fit in nicely:) Thanks Nell,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

Vellur, We do need to take a break some times during a day, and I can attest that I think better after a coffee break than before! Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it!


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

DDE, my morning coffee is one of the best moments during the day, but then again, every coffee break or fika are wonderful and with some good company it gets even better. Thanks DDE for reading and for the comment,


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

Martie, I do agree! A day without coffee is impossible and would be miserable! Coffee is a part of the daily life and we tend to take it for granted. There are some who think that coffee breaks are a waste of company money but I think just the opposite, if it is done with some moderation of course. It should be a short coffee break not a long lunch!

It is never to late for a fika and your fika sounds excellent:) I am so glad that you are still here Martie and it feels good to be back here again.


Christina Lornemark (author) from Sweden on March 10, 2014:

billybuc, At first I thought; you miss something good when you do not drink coffee and take a fika, but then I thought about your social skills and realize that you don't miss a thing:)

Thanks for reading Bill, I appreciate your comment,


Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 10, 2014:

I am a big fan of coffee breaks of any kind, so this is an interesting tradition to read about. Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a wonderful week!

~ Kathryn

Nell Rose from England on March 10, 2014:

I wish we had this sort of social gathering around coffee when I was at work. It was just a case of getting the coffee and taking it back to the desk. This is such a good idea! Mind you, being English it would probably be tea more than coffee, but its still a great way to socialise, and meet people!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 10, 2014:

A great hub about the Swedish fika, a special time to relax, socialize and activate the brain with Swedish coffee!! Delicious!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2014:

Sweden coffee sounds different and what a lovely way to spend the morning thank for this interesting insight on such a lovely coffee.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on March 09, 2014:

Oh, what will life be without coffee?

Tina, this hub of yours has given me a whole new perspective on what we regard as everyday-living down here. Coffee is so part of our lives, like drinking water, we don't even think twice about it. I am a coffee connoisseur; I will rather drink water before I drink a common cup of "plastic" coffee. With plastic I mean 60% or less pure coffee and the rest chicory. I want 100% coffee, or nothing.

10:45pm - too late for a fica? Nope! I am going to make myself some milk coffee - a cup of hot milk with a teaspoon pure coffee powder. I may add a teaspoon of cacao. (The latter apparently prevent brain deceases such as Alzheimer's.) And, of course, with a couple of coconut-chocolate cookies. I will be thinking of you, Tina :)

Welcome back!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2014:

Interesting. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I am an oddity in our region, where coffee is king.