Skip to main content

Enjoy the coffee break! Take a Swedish "fika"

My favorite cup for strong, hot coffee!

My favorite cup for strong, hot coffee!

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 other 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, a evening-fika and someday 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 to 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

Sweden is among the top countries when it comes to consume coffee compared to population.

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

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

Source: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svenska_köket#Mellanm.C3.A5l_och_fika

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 witch only could be bought in a pharmacy. The taste for coffee grew rapidly and the fist 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 should be at least seven different cookies and preferable 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 then around 18:00 in the evening because I can't sleep if I drink coffee to late at night.

Where are 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, on a sports event, at a funeral, 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 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!

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

What is a fika?

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 a 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 preferred coffee that is both boiled and brewed with a strong flavour and strength witch gives me a coffee that is both hot enough as well as strong enough.


During the last years there has been an explosion of new ways to drink coffee and Sweden seem to have adopted all types of the worlds way 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, 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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License

A Swedish wienerbröd, a Danish pastry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License

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 there are some types of cakes and pastry that is 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 witch we call a wienerbröd. It is one of my personal favorite since there is nothing that can compete with a fresh, newly baked Danish pastry with the brittle texture and the lovely vanilla sauce in the middle and powdered sugar on top.