My favorite finding during my stay in Sweden most definitely is fika! I adore the concept that friends, co-workers, classmates, love-interests, family, etc. can get together and chat over coffee (or tea) and delicious cookies and/or pastries. What is better than a coffee break full of sweets?
Back home, I drink coffee daily, but not in the leisure and comfort as I do here in Sweden. To sit and have coffee and pastries with friends in a cozy, coffee shop is a great feeling. I have trouble explaining this concept to my friends and family back home. They always respond with something along the lines of “So what, we have coffee shops here.” What they fail to understand is how fika fits into the Swedish lifestyle.
The Swedish language hosts the verb fikar which actually means to have coffee or tea. My Swedish language instructor has informed me that Sweden recently held the most coffee drinkers per capita worldly until the Finnish claimed the title. But, with past times like fika it is easy to see why Swedes drink so much coffee.
Looking back on my activities thus far, my Sundays would have remained empty without Sunday afternoon fika with my closest girl friends. No matter what happens Saturday night, I always find myself gossiping and relaxing with them Sunday afternoon over coffee.
Another way my friends and I have considered fika is more date-like. We collectively tease one another saying “I’m having fika with so-and-so, but it’s not a date, it is just fika.” Often times, fika is a chance to sit down and just casually converse alleviating the pressure of a full on dinner date. My American friends and I would consider fika with a love interest, in a comfortable, cozy atmosphere like a “pre-date”.
Back in the U.S., getting coffee is sometimes more of an every-day routine scheduled when convenient. Chains like Starbucks and Caribou are trendy fast-food like coffee joints. The food at chain coffee shops (like pastries and cookies) are pre-processed and packaged for mass sale. In other words, it is not fresh. In some places, a new trend is “drive-through” coffee. Driving in your car and ordering coffee takes all of the leisure that, in my opinion, goes along with going out to get coffee in the first place. Sure, you can still enjoy the coffee, but within your car.
I prefer the Swedish fika. Give me great company, a fresh cup of coffee and a home-made kanelbulle or a semla roll any day and I will be one-hundred percent satisfied and content.