The Art of Swedish Fika

Ever heard of Swedish fika? If you are lucky you might even have been introduced to this typical Swedish tradition. Directly translated from Swedish to English, fika simply means “to have coffee”. But ask any Swede, and they will tell you it is so much more than that – Swedish fika is a moment to slow down and savor the sweeter things in life, whether it’s at your best friends house, at a café or out in nature. 

Coffee on the open fire | Photo: Jonas Kullman
Swedish fika mountain style involves the traditional "kokkaffe".

Swedish Fika Mountain Style

The art of Swedish fika is more about how you do it than where. It involves taking a short break or two throughout the day to relax, connect, and reflect. As simple as that. One of the best spots, where the goodies usually tastes even better is outdoors, summer or winter.

Head out in the nature, bring flatbread rolls, coffee and a kettle. Find a nice spot where you light a fire. Get water from the nearest lake or stream, pour ground coffee in the pan, put it on the fire and let it cook. The trick to make real good coffee is to let it cook properly (almost to the extent where it flows over the side of the pan), take it off the fire to let the coffee sink in the pan, then doing the same procedure once again. This is Swedish kokkaffe.

If you are lucky and there is a traditional waffle hut nearby that’s what you should be heading for. Have a bite at a warm and crispy waffle typically served with whipped cream and cloudberry jam and let your taste buds revel – something of a must-do for every swede on a ski tour in the mountains. Yummy!

Swedish waffles | Photo: Jonas Kullman
Swedish waffles in the making!

No set Rules for Swedish Fika, but…

While there are no set rules for what you should drink or eat during your Swedish fika, a strong, quality brewed coffee or even tea are a good place to start. Coffee is usually accompanied by a small something to eat. It’s the baked goods that reign supreme during fika time – most notably the kanelbulle or cinnamon bun.

Swedish cinnamon rolls are not as cloying sweet as their American counterpart – while the cardamom-flavored dough does indeed hide a butter and cinnamon interior, a simple sprinkle of pearl sugar coats the top. The cinnamon bun is so ingrained in Swedish culture that, in 1999, a collective of yeast, sugar, flour, and butter producers called Sweden’s Home Baking Council announced that October 4th would henceforth be Cinnamon Bun Day (Kanelbullens dag).

Other times of the year seasonal buns are a perfect add on to your Swedish fika. This pastries such as semlor throughout the winter, a whipped cream- and marzipan-stuffed bun flavored with cardamom, as well as the saffron-flavored lussebulle during Advent. If you aren’t into sweets, don’t despair. Many Swedes opt to take their coffee with an open-face sandwich or smörgås – an alternative way of Swedish fika.

Swedish fika | Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson
Swedish fika it’s a moment to slow down and savor the sweeter things in life.
Swedish kokkaffe by Destination Vemdalen