Fika 101

  • Updated: November 7, 2012 - 2:06 PM

A sampling of the pastries at a recent fika break at Employer Solutions Group.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The Swedish word "fika" works as both a noun and a verb. In other words, you can fika with friends, or you can join them for a fika.

It's a coffee break, ideally with cinnamon rolls, which makes it sound Old World, but the Urban Dictionary calls it a "phenomenon mostly popular amongst teenagers."

Whatever the generation, fika is a means (excuse?) to connect with people. Swedes grant it almost ritual status -- none of this American grab-and-go, "Text me when you can!" stuff. Fika is about coffee, but also conversation.

And calories.

"The Swedish Table" cookbook says fika hosts should provide at least three baked goods to avoid insulting their guests. (If you're serious, bake seven.)

Fika also serves as a social safety net for a first meeting that isn't really a date, but could be considered one if things go really well, while letting everyone off the hook if it bombs. Swedish efficiency at its best.

In 2009, coffee roaster Gevalia wanted to set a Swedish record for fikaing. The city of Östersund rose to the occasion, with 3,563 people taking a break together.


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