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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?