Swedish Fika: The Art of Coffee, Sweets & Good Company

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By Julianne Keskey

I had the pleasure of visiting Sweden twice this past summer and in the months following my return, coffee has become an integral part of my life. Coffee gives you that extra motivation to pull yourself from the depths of your blankets that have been warmed by your body heat throughout the night. It’s there for you when you need a midday pick-me-up and when you’re running from work to class and there’s no way you’ll sit through a lecture without that caffeine perk. But most importantly, coffee brings people together. Whether it be with a friend you haven’t seen in months, a meeting with a potential client or a group of strangers visiting the same foreign city as yourself.

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My first trip to Sweden included a visit to Gothenburg and the West Coast. When I received my itinerary for my upcoming trip, I noticed a word I had never seen before, making itself present within every day’s busy schedule. That word was “fika.” As soon as I looked it up, I was even more excited to visit a country that made a point to schedule such an activity in a busy daily itinerary. Fika is a Swedish verb and noun that means, “to drink coffee/tea/squash, usually accompanied by something sweet. Let me tell you, the Swedes don’t mess around with their coffee breaks, no matter what you’re doing when the internal caffeine siren blows.

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On a boat? No worries. This cooler of homemade baked goods, coffee, and all the fixings was sweetly packed for a Mussel Safari outing. You can read more about what such a thing is here (https://hetravel.com/steamed-swedish-mussels/).

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The beautiful folks of Sweden really don’t mess around when it comes to their baked goods. Freshness, deliciousness, and variety abound. There’s nothing like being bundled up in fisherman’s garb while your hair is blowing in the salty air and you’ve got a warm cup of coffee between your palms.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t be more surprised with where our fikas would take place, I was absolutely blown out of the water… well, on top of the water that is… on a kayak. When I read the itinerary details for our day of kayaking in the fjords there was a fika break scheduled in. I assumed we’d be stopping at a lovely little shore café on our journey. After braving the storm we had been surprised with that day and the countless tiny jellyfish I had been scooping up with my oar while in awe of the chirping birds along the forested shore, our tour guide asked if we were ready for coffee. When she told us all to pull our kayaks together for fika, I was floored. Coffee right here?! Yes, please! She didn’t just pull out a hot thermos of coffee, she pulled out cups, milk, sugar and a bowl of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. I have no idea where she was even storing all of that and I’m just going to assume she was a fabulous witch there to make all of my dreams come true.

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Look at these happy faces! I never imagined I’d be in Sweden, enjoying a coffee break in kayaks with new friends. This will always be one of the most surprising and lovely coffee dates of my life.

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Do these cinnamon rolls look familiar? These were made fresh for our group while touring an incredible B&B that seemed to be pulled right from the most fantastic of all interior decorating books.

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I love this tradition of meeting up for a coffee (or tea), something sweet to eat and catching up with a friend. No matter how busy the day is, there’s always time to catch your breath with a warm drink and smile from the person sitting across from you. It’s become a part of my weekly life and no matter how busy I am, I’m usually able to schedule in a coffee date. And this was only one thing, and such a small thing, that I loved about Sweden. It’s such an incredibly beautiful country that’s filled with people to match its landscape. In fact, I would move to Sweden tomorrow if given the opportunity. Anybody have any leads? Let me know… maybe we can talk about it over coffee.

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(Photo courtesy of Mark Thomspon)


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