what is fika?

fika: [fee-ka] 

*FIKA: {Swedish} n,v. an experience of drinking coffee, usually with something sweet to eat. a time to enjoy an intentional cup of coffee with friends, family, or colleagues. An important social part of everyday Swedish culture.

fika is a swedish word that cannot be translated directly to english. don’t go and google translate it. it won’t be right. no verbal or written explanation will quite capture the essence of fika. it is a noun. it is a verb. like i said, it’s a special word. and it must be experienced. only then can you understand the importance and beauty of this un-translatable word.

fika is a cultural part of sweden, found deep within the whole society. when in sweden, you go to have a fika. you meet for fika. and when you meet for fika, you fika. curious yet? here’s what happens.

of course, i am sure that you have figured out that fika involves coffee. yep. fika is the act (if you think of it as a verb) of meeting someone for coffee. but, it’s not to just grab coffee and go, it is to sit down for a leisurely cup o’joe and catch up with someone. to really take some time to enjoy the moments. i suppose one can fika alone, lord knows i made it a part of my life. but, generally it is a morning, noon, afternoon, or evening activity shared between friends or co-workers. if you think it sounds like meeting someone at starbucks to sit and chat for a while, you are not completely wrong, but you are not right either. no, the idea of fika is not engrained into our american psyche, like it is in sweden. you truly have to experience it. perhaps italians have something close to it, i’m not sure.

now, there is a second facet of fika – one that proves just how deep fika roots go in swedish society. you see, no matter where you work, you have a fika break scheduled into your day. and man, the swedes mean business when it comes to fika breaks. at promptly 9:30 or 10, sometime in the mid-morning, everyone leaves their offices, desks, etc. and gathers in the fika room. hold on, americans, you may be thinking that this sounds familiar, like grabbing a coffee in the break room or teacher’s lounge at work. you are wrong. this is nothing like that.

at my place of work,  i would always be asked, “are you coming?” by my co-worker, as she was locking her door and heading downstairs for fika. all of us that were working gathered around a table with coffee, tea, sandwiches, fruit, and sometimes something sweet for 30 minutes of talk, discussion, and gossip. we sat together, lit candles , and simply enjoyed each other’s company. sounds cozy, huh? at 10, we all dispersed and headed back to our work.

but guess what? this happened all over again at 2:30/3:00! for real. doctors, therapists, construction workers, everyone everywhere takes time to fika. twice a day.

and if you’re not at work, then you have the luxury of simply meeting someone for fika in a local cafe or inviting someone home. but, no matter where you are, i guarantee that it is a cozy, important moment in an otherwise hectic day.

so, that’s fika. a slow, intentional time to sip coffee and reconnect with yourself and with others. for a coffee lover like myself it doesn’t get any better than that!


*this is not an official definition. i don’t know if there is an official definition. i simply made this one up based on my experiences and understanding of fika.

11 thoughts on “what is fika?

  1. yogaleigh says:

    Sounds lovely. In Italy they like to go to an expresso bar, order standing at the bar, receive cup, throw back in one gulp, put down money and leave. When I went with some Italians I hadn’t finished stirring in the sugar when they were ready to leave… This sounds soooo much nicer!


  2. countingsheepstudio says:

    I’d love to catch a break with you when you visit Black Mountain or East Asheville, let me know! Great concept, I’m 100% for it.


    • liz says:

      I would love to meet you! I have some places in East Asheville and Black Mountain on my list to visit, so I am sure we can coordinate.


    • liz says:

      Hi again! I am actually headed to Black Mtn right now (wednesday 10/9). I don’t know where I am going yet, but if you have a chance, you can meet me. I’ll leave another message soon!


    • liz says:

      Here comes my third message to you. Haha. I’m at Dripolator. I’ll most likely be here until about 1:15. If you have time, stop by!


      • countingsheepstudio says:

        Oh bummer, I am stuck here at the house waiting for someone to come pick up some yarn from me. Wish I could get out there, but it will be too late by then! Hope you are having fun.


  3. Clara B. says:

    Love your project and love the concept of fika. For me, there are few things better than a cozy coffee house, a good cup of coffee and good reading material (or interesting company). It would be fun to meet up for coffee before you end your adventure. I’m in North Asheville, but happy to travel for coffee…


  4. Luis Munoz says:

    I love the concept. I might even try something similar here in London where I live. What a simple idea to make life more enjoyable and fulfilled. Thanks for sharing.


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