Swedish Language: What is Fika?

Fika Stockholm
Fika in Stockholm

Fika is the Swedish custom of coffee and something tasty to eat. It is a daily ritual and an important part of Swedish life.

So important, in fact, that the vast majority of workplaces have one or two fika breaks a day. These are called fikarast (literally coffee break) or fikapaus (literally fika pause). The common times are 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.

In English, fika is closer to “a cup of tea and a natter” than a coffee break. But whereas ours might be infrequent and something lovely to do, the Swedes have fika daily. The social element is extremely important, although you can technically do* fika by yourself.

The other important element of fika is to have a bite to eat with it. This is usually something sweet, known as fikabröd or, more traditionally, kaffebröd. Cinnamon rolls are big but so are pastries, cakes and biscuits. You can even have smörgås, which are Swedish open sandwiches if you don’t have a sweet tooth.

In fact, coffee itself isn’t essential. Admittedly, coffee is the usual drink of choice, and it is not uncommon to have 2-3 cups in a single fikarast, but you can also have tea, soda or milk etc.

At work, fika usually lasts between 10-30 minutes. Leisure-time fika is much more languorous and lasts between 30 minutes to several hours. It is even a fairly common first date, as it is so casual in nature.
So, if you fancy trying fika, you can even make your own recipe for delicious cinnamon buns, provided here on Sweden’s official site.


*Fika can be a noun or a verb

Source Nordika