A cultural institution, the daily coffee break called fika gives Swedes a chance to recharge both body and soul.
Ask a number of Swedes what “fika” is and you may get as many different answers, but one reply is always the same: “it’s what we do.” Fika is loosely defined as having something to do with coffee, but after that interpretations run rampant. It’s a noun, it's a verb, it's a loose thing – but at the heart of it all is the idea of taking a break from the hustle and bustle and giving the body and mind a chance to recharge.
It frequently happens at cafes, there is always coffee and often cinnamon or cardamom buns or other pastry; it can happen at the office where people will walk away from their desks and have a true coffee break with colleagues. It can be coffee from a thermos with a friend on a bench, it can be alone with a book. It seems like the one requirement is just that you put the day on pause in order to recharge; it may sound indulgent, but why not celebrate the idea of taking a break? Think of it as a Scandinavian version of the siesta.
Filmmaker Fabian Schmid has created a six-part mini documentary about the tradition. The first episode, below, is just a tad over six minutes and gives a taste of fika as various people describe what it means to them. Grab a cinnamon bun and some coffee and have a look.
Related on TreeHugger: Why we should all embrace fika, the Swedish coffee break