Grab-and-go coffee cultures could learn a thing or two from the Swedes. While Americans order takeaway lattes with faux-European monikers for their morning buzz and Europeans start the day with espresso consumed at stand-up cafés, our Nordic cousins actually slow down for coffee in a cozy ritual called fika (pronounced fee-ka).
Indeed, fika is so sacred to the Swedes, it's built into daily routines in homes, businesses, pensions, parks and cafés. Throughout the country, locals take time during the day to relax and recharge over a cup of Joe—usually accompanied by cake, cookies or pastry. Whether flying solo or engaged with colleagues, friends or family, there's no grabbing a Mocha Macchiato in a takeaway paper cup in Sweden. In this northern land, folks deliberately carve out moments of quality time to press the reset button over coffee and sweets.
More than a quick coffee break or caffeinated jolt to get going in the morning, fika connects people by opening windows that encourage communication. Consistent with Sweden's flat, non-hierarchical culture, it's a shared, ingrained value that fosters connection and helps everyone find their voice. And their sweet tooth. A lavish fika can include cookies, tarts, breads, sandwiches, and pies made with local berries.
While the fare may be similar, a Swedish fica is apt to be more casual and relaxed than Afternoon Tea in Britain. Beyond pleasantries, it's aimed at bringing out the magic of connecting over coffee and cinnamon buns.