The top 5 reasons we should all give a flying fika
According to a 2017 report by the United Nations, Sweden is right up there in the top 10 of the world’s happiest countries.
And I’m pretty sure it has to do with its reverential obsession with fika. The Swedes will fika anytime, anywhere, with any person. This long-standing Swedish institution, considered a non-negotiable right, is even written into employee contracts.
To fika (although the Swedes are loath to translate their proprietary word) basically means to have coffee and a pastry.
But fika, which can be a noun or a verb, is way more Zen than that.
Here are the top five reasons all of us should fika every chance we get:
1. It’s a caffeine-fueled siesta.
It’s one thing to zip around a Starbucks drive-thru. But to fika is to drop everything, to sit down, take a break, energize, and meditate with your homies. It’s the Slow Food Movement for coffee drinkers.
2. It creates social capital.
Theoretically you could fika alone, but to a Swede, that would be like tango without a partner - like wearing one mitten.
3. It’s completely rule-free.
British tea is usually taken in the afternoon. Likewise, happy hour is an after-work phenomenon. The Swedes, on the other hand, fika in the morning, in the afternoon, and really any time they need a breather. It’s no wonder the average Swede consumes 864 cups of coffee per year. Anyone who read Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy couldn’t help but notice the sheer volume of coffee consumed by Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.
4. It’s rebellious.
Five times, over the past centuries, Swedish kings have outlawed the consumption of coffee. In the eighteenth century, King Frederik I taxed it, banned it, and even confiscated cups, pots, and other “paraphernalia.” In the name of science, his grandson, Gustav III, commuted the death sentence of identical twins, sentencing one to consume three pots of coffee per day and the other three pots of tea. His hypothesis failed miserably. Not only did the physicians monitoring the experiment die long before either of the twins, but the coffee-drinker outlived the tea-drinker by several years.
5. By definition, it comes with a treat.
If you’re fika-ing properly, your coffee is accompanied by fikabrod, a slew of baked goods ranging from croissants and coffee cakes to bulle, a knotted, buttery pastry, often with cardamom.
Eat your way across L.A.
Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.