Pretty much everything about Sweden enticed me – the cuisine, art, cityscape, and waterfront — but I must say that the tradition of Fika is what won my heart. I suppose it’s comparable to England’s afternoon tea, but there’s a certain coziness to taking a moment for coffee and cake that removes the stuffiness from afternoon snack time, and brings everyone closer to the table.
I was lucky enough to have Fika every day while in Sweden, and each experience was unique and special in its own way. First, after climbing the stunning Norra Berget on a chilly day, we enjoyed the foggy view of the city between two mountains and took refuge in a sweet little café at the summit. There we served our own coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and placed orders for waffles with whipped cream and cloudberry jam. Sitting by the fire surrounded by local Swedes, we’d fueled up for our journey back down the mountain!
A most traditional Fika was in the home of my dear friend, Johanna. There, her mother prepared coffee for us and I was wide-eyed at the tray of home-baked treats she placed on the table in front of us. In the comfort of their family living room, we all sat enjoying the afternoon respite, getting to know each other over ginger cookies, muffins, and chocolate cake.
In Stockholm, Fika takes its own form. Our city-home for the week, Urban Deli, offered all-day Fika of at your convenience. But in the city Fika seemed more often taken with a book or laptop, a time at which to have a meeting or catch-up. In Stockholm it’s clear that Fika is the true coffee culture of Sweden, be it city or suburb, defining how Swedes converse and decompress in the afternoon. While Fika literally means “to drink coffee,” tea is also a common choice one may enjoy with a sweet snack. A cinnamon bun, cardamom cake, oat cookie, fig square, almond tarte, or chocolate sandwich cookie are just a few options to choose from there and throughout the city locales.
And now, even in New York City we have our very own Fika! The chain, which opened in 2006, embodies the Swedish tradition and appreciation of a coffee-centric lifestyle. Above all, this local iteration is the perfect place to treat yourself with high quality ingredients, and a caffeine and sugar kick to help you take on the day.