Master the art of taking a break.
On a recent business trip to Sweden I was introduced to the cultural phenomenon of fika (pronounced ‘fee-ka’). Forget quickly knocking back an espresso or rapidly munching al desko, fika is a chance for Swedes to slow down, relax, socialise and enjoy their coffee and sweet or savoury treat with friends, family and colleagues.
The word ‘fika’, used as both a noun and a verb, is derived from the Swedish word for coffee (kaffe) – but fika doesn’t necessarily have to involve coffee; the key is to pause your day.
This cherished custom is an inclusive ritual designed to re-charge, re-inspire and re-connect. It’s a lifestyle; it’s ingrained within the Swedish psyche; it’s so important that it’s even a pre-requisite in many employment contracts.
As soon as I realised that fika was officially a ‘thing’, I started to notice it everywhere I went: in offices, cafes, bars, in parks, outside of homes – everywhere. Everyone also seems to have their favourite kind of fika coffee, tea, or soft drink, which is then paired to perfection with a pastry, a biscuit, or sandwich depending on the time of day – because fika-ing can occur several times a day.
By the time I returned home I was a complete fika fan. I wanted to bring a bit of fika into our everyday routine and found this beauty completely dedicated to the concept: Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. The superbly illustrated book charts the history, social etiquette and language of fika, and includes a wealth of recipes for traditional, modern, on-the-go and special occasion treats (think cinnamon buns, almond tarts and gingersnaps).
Some even believe the best ideas spring from fika breaks. Perhaps we have fika to thank for Ikea, H&M and all the many other innovative Swedish exports that prove the Swedes must be doing something right…right?
Fancy a fika?