The core of Swedish culture: Ska vi fika?

Hey all! It’s Sejin again!

For my post today, I will be writing down about the core of Swedish culture: Fika.

I guess some might be already used to the term, ‘fika’, but some might not.

Basically, fika means “coffee” or “to have a coffee”. According to my SFI teacher, the term ‘fika’ was first used by tjänstefolk (service people, or servants) who could not afford to pay for having coffee, because coffee was one of the most expensive things at that time. Instead of buying their own coffee, the service people started to sneakily drink their masters’ coffee. To conceal the fact that they were stealing coffee and to talk safely about coffee even in front of their masters, they invented a slang word that could replace the word, ‘coffee’ – and that slang word was ‘fika’. Coffee was called as ‘Ka-fi’ among Swedish people at the time, and the service people decided to convert ‘Ka-fi’ into ‘Fi-ka’. It was an easy word, but hard enough for the masters to know that the service people were sneakily drinking their coffee. That is the story of how the word ‘fika’ came into use! 

Nowadays, fika isn’t just having some coffee, but it almost always comes with some sweet desserts. A nice cup of coffee with a sweet dessert. Yum. The most typical fika dessert is, you might have heard of it already, Kanelbulle (a cinnamon roll). Kladkakka (a gooey chocolate cake, like a brownie), chokladboll (a chocolate ball) and kardamummabulle (a cardamom roll) are the typical fika desserts as well. In Swedish grocery markets, such as Coop and ICA, etc., you can find some fikabröd (Fika bread) at the bread section. 

Having a fika break with friends. I picked a coco kladkakka and a glass of ice caffe latte.

As I understand it, fika is such an important thing to Swedish people. It is a part of their lives. Whenever they have a meeting with their group work members or after they have dinner at their friend’s place, fika will be there. Whenever they hang out with their friends in the middle of a day, fika will be there as always. 

Living in Sweden for more than a year, fika became an important thing in my life as well. Fika is not just a culture, or a coffee break, but it is more like a thing that connects me and the others. I often ask my friends to fika together. Ska vi fika?


  1. I didn’t know about the story behind the term “Fika”! Very interesting. I love fika too!!

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