mahabis guide // how to experience fika, outside of sweden
You can't visit Sweden without being bombarded by fika. Cafes are always full of groups of friends, enjoying steaming cups of coffee and sticky cinnamon buns, spilling out onto the pavement at any time of year. Time is even made for fika during office hours, with the majority of Swedes pausing twice during the working day to take a step back and relax.
Even if you aren't a coffee drinker, this essential part of Swedish life is intended to allow you to slow things down and enjoy the finer things in life, such as the company of others. So, how can you incorporate fika into your daily life?
photo: via unsplash
“Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park, or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”
Modern life is hectic, and it can be hard to find time to switch off and unwind for ten minutes, yet the concept of 'slow living' has been gaining popularity in recent years. This seemingly new concept isn't too dissimilar to fika, rather it is an extension of the thought process of switching off for a short coffee break. To completely dedicate yourself to living a slower pace of life can be a drastic change, but to adapt the Swedish way of life and to make time for short coffee breaks is a more convenient alternative.
photo: via unsplash
To create your own fika, a freshly brewed hot drink is essential for the traditional Swedish experience (although, a glass of homemade lemonade will suffice), along with a freshly baked sweet bun or pastry. Rather than popping to the coffee machine once an hour, ask your boss if they mind you taking a ten minute morning break where you can sit down with a couple of colleagues and enjoy a hot drink and a sweet treat. Explain that a short break will boost your productivity and creativity for the remainder of the morning. If you can't take the time for a break, plan your fika time for your lunch hour, and walk to your nearest coffee shop.
When travelling by train, always treat yourself to a take-away cup of coffee and a sweet treat so that you can fika during your journey. If your weekend plans typically involve browsing the shops or walking the dog, ensure that you factor in time to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee (either with friends, or enjoying your own company), rather than rushing home. When you have friends visiting your home, brew a pot of tea or coffee, put out a plate of cakes and submerge yourself in conversation.
photo: nolan issac
The main thing to remember is not to rush. Visiting the Starbucks drive-thru and sipping your take-away coffee during the rush-hour commute is not fika. Neither is gulping down your drink whilst frantically checking your watch. You shouldn't even be checking your phone, email or Instagram.
The whole concept of fika is to take things slowly, to sit back and relax, and not to worry about the stresses of everyday life. Savour the taste of the coffee, the texture of the cinnamon bun, and the moment of downtime.