Fika is Swedish for a coffee break that’s more about socialising than drinking coffee. And something sweet is also welcome.

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Photo: Susanne Walström/

A social cup of coffee

Swedes prefer not to translate the word fika. They don’t want it to lose significance and become a mere coffee break. It is one of the first words you will learn when visiting Sweden, right after tack (thank you) and hej (hello).

Fika is much more than having a coffee. It is a social phenomenon, a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time. Fika can happen at any time, morning as well as evening. It can be savoured at home, at work or in a café. It can be with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you are trying to get to know. It is a tradition observed frequently, preferably several times a day.

Accompanying sweets are crucial. Cinnamon buns, cakes, cookies, even open-faced sandwiches pass as acceptable fika fare. It comes as no surprise that Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world – or that Swedes appreciate the good things in life.

Photo: Susanne Walström/

This text and recipe come from the Swedish Institute publication The Swedish Kitchen – from Fika to Cosy Friday. Order the printed publication from

Last updated: 28 November 2014

Liselotte Forslin, Rikard Lagerberg & Susanne Walström

Liselotte Forslin is a freelance food writer, food stylist and author of several cookbooks. ||| Rikard Lagerberg is a Swedish writer with roots in San Francisco, Stockholm and Sligo, who, after years of a typical Swedish diet, chose a vegetarian direction for himself in the 90s. ||| Susanne Walström is a photographer based in Sweden. Her personal documentary style has been applied to a multitude of subjects, including several books about food.