A break from work is a welcome diversion to anybody having a hectic schedule. A coffee lover will never turn down an invitation to a coffee break in his right mind. The excitement a Swede experiences on being asked out on a coffee break knows no boundary. The Swedish locals consider the coffee break almost a legal tradition and this has become an essential part of their culture. This is precisely why the ritual has been named ‘Fika’.
All About Fika
In the 1680s when coffee started showing its gorgeous head in Sweden, it was considered bad for women. Initially it was sold in pharmacies; however, it was in the 1700s that the popularity increased substantially as King Karl XII fell in love with it. After a while coffee acquired a negative reputation due to its availability in coffee houses that were found in ports which were frequented by sailors.
There was a period, during the rule of King Gustav III when coffee was banned as it was considered dangerous by the king. He even imposed heavy taxes on individuals who consumed tea or coffee. It was thought that the ban was due to the fear of gatherings and gossip leading to plots against the king. However, the early 1800s saw a rise in the popularity of coffee among the public. The beginning of the 20th century celebrated the emergence of fika, which was a ritual that included the consumption of coffee with bread. It became a tradition in which people would dress up on Sundays and fika at their local joints.
Doing It Right – Fika
The main idea involved the fact that coffee was used as a reason to take a break, so that meant that the culture was not centred around coffee but the break instead. To fika correctly, one would need to sit, along with a group, at the fika, drink coffee and eat some sort of sweet food. The cinnamon bun is the most famous snack to fika. Flavoured sweet bread, coffee bread, Danish pastry, soft cake and wheat bread are all popular snacks along with biscuits and flatbread made with rye flour.
Initially, fika meant the serving of seven types of snacks which had to be made at home. In modern times though there is a lot of relaxation, where the variety of snacks and even the coffee can be alternated for tea or other drinks.
Time to Fika
Fika is done twice a day, and the timing depends on if the individual is working or retired for the day. Ideally, you fika once early in the morning and then at around 11 am if you are a retired individual. A working individual follows fika as per their company rules. Most workplaces allow a coffee break once in the morning and once in the evening around 4 pm. However, these days there is no restriction to following fika anywhere and anytime.
Choice of Coffee
In the early days, the coffee used was cooked, wherein the coffee beans were boiled. In modern times we know that boiling coffee makes it bitter, yet that’s precisely how some people prefer it. During the 20th century, the Swedish were introduced to the filter coffee which went on to break barriers. The expresso culture has swept over Sweden in recent times. The changes in the coffee culture have taken over Sweden. However, it has failed to touch the fika tradition. Fika comes before coffee to the Swedes. The ritual is followed even today with the same emotion it was observed with years ago. The culture has managed to remain entwined in the Swede blood.