Sweden’s coffee tradition – Do you fika?

If you enjoy coffee, cakes and time with friends, chances are that you do!

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Sweden coffee

I am a coffee fan. Not just any coffee, mind you. Good coffee–dark, robust, served in a nifty cup or mug, and with something flavorful alongside. In Gothenburg, I learned how to take a coffee break to the next level with a hearty Swedish tradition that marries coffee, sweet and savory accompaniments, and social interaction. I learned to fika!

Learning to fika

Sweden coffee
Yes, I fika!

The Swedish have a wonderful tradition of coffee, buns or cakes to break up the workday: fika. The practice is a social phenomenon, and so ingrained, it happens several times a day, morning and evening. It is a tradition that can be enjoyed at home, at work or in a café. Fika is even a verb!

Coffee time is the place for catching up with friends and hatching business deals, with hot drinks and cakes to smooth the way. In Sweden, everywhere I went, coffee was on offer–with hot chocolate or tea options for non-coffee drinkers. And always with a slice of cake or a sandwich alongside.

Swedish love of fika translates into plenty of cafes to kick back and enjoy a cuppa and cake or other sides.

Cinnamon swirls, ready for a Swedish coffee break
The cinnamon swirl is the very essence of a typical Swedish coffee break.

Da Matteo Caffe é Gelato

Coffee beans are roasted in-house at Da Matteo. Filter coffee is made to order, following an exacting regimen: water heated to 220 C (425 F), poured over exactly 14 grams of coffee, and left to steep for 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Sweden coffee

Café Husaren

Café Husaren is a top destination in Gothenburg for coffee and the largest cinnamon buns in town. A table here is also a marvelous place for people-watching.

Sweden coffee

Gunnebo House and Gardens

The servants’ quarters-turned-cafe at Gunnebo House and Gardens in Mölndal, just south of Gothenburg, is a marvelous place to experience fika to the max. The cinnamon buns here are tasty-and-tidy affairs, dusted with sugar. Fika can be as much about the sides as the coffee, and Gunnebo’s apple-almond cupcakes with a topping of calvados-flavored cream cheese and edible flowers are almost too pretty to eat.

Cupcakes with calvados cream cheese topping and edible flowers at Gunnebo House in Mölndal, Sweden
Gunnebo’s cupcakes, topped with calvados cream cheese and edible flowers
Sweden coffee
Fika can be much more than coffee and cakes–here, a lavish spread at Gunnebo House, more luncheon than coffee break.

Fika, a family tradition?

My earliest coffee memory is from sleepovers at my grandparents’ house–my grandmother would wake me on a winter morning with a steaming mug of coffee-flavored milk, which I got to enjoy with Grandpa while we read the newspaper together. Perhaps I get my coffee affections from the Swedish branch of the family, immigrants to the US almost 150 years ago?

Sweden Coffee
My very first coffee memory is from time spent with my grandfather. When I visited Gothenburg last autumn, I had a feeling Grandpa Isaacson would have enjoyed cruising Sweden’s coffee scene as much as I did!
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