Fika is another very Swedish tradition and lots of expats ask me “what is fika?”. There is not really something like it outside of Sweden from what I know, but fika is a Swedish word meaning “to have a break”, and a key part of Swedish culture. Fika is all about small cakes and buns such as kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or kardemummabullar (cardamom buns). In Sweden pastries as a whole, like for instance kanelbullar are frequently called fika bread or fikabröd, and are normally very cheap in supermarkets and bakeries.
What is Fika?
Fika is mostly about having a break with your friends, colleagues, family, and even a date. You can take a break or “have a fika” at work by getting some friends of colleagues together, buying some pastries, and sitting down in a comfy chair and talking about your day.
The key to fika is taking a break through the day to relax and discuss anything that is on your mind. Even if the term fika might itself suggest “taking a break”, this is frequently emphasized utilizing the term fika pause or fikapaus. The term fika might also signify having a coffee at a café.
Fika at Work
Fika is a normal practice at offices in Sweden. Some companies have 2 fika breaks, which are taken at about 9 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Most companies will have daily team meetings at 9 over a fika to plan the day and discuss current projects but obviously having 2 fika breaks takes time, and so this varies between companies and how much time people have that day.
Great Fika Pastries
The classic cinnamon bun or kanelbullar, these can be found in every supermarket and bakery in Sweden, and at every fika table. These buns are normally a little sticky (the good ones) with small sugar sprinkles on the top. Very good!
My personal favourite. Kardemummarbullar or Cardamom Buns in Stockholm are just fantastic. Again, a little sticky and they taste amazing.
Hosting a great Fika
The key to hosting a great fika is to meet expectations. Swedes will expect fresh coffee or bryggkafe (rather than instant coffee), a few different buns, napkins (for all the sticky fingers), and good company.
Finding a Place to Fika
With such a strong fika culture, finding somewhere to enjoy yourself is not hard. Start with Yelp or Google Maps and start to build your own “go-to” places. Fabrique is a personal favourite but you have to be quick as their fika bread sells out fast.
So I hope that gives a good intro into the fika culture in Sweden and gives you something to think about. As always, leave your comments below and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.