|Cody and Katarina in a Cafe|
According to my research, fika is a social institution in Sweden; it means "having a break, most often a coffee break, with one's colleagues, friends, date, or family." If you google "fika," most sources will tell you fika is much more than a break; it's an social obligation that Swedes honor on a daily basis.
In the US, we drink coffee, probably just as much as they do in Sweden, but we do it on the run. I buy my coffee at Starbucks as I head for the Metro and then drink it quietly in solitude on the bus and train. Americans meet up for coffee but it's not a daily ritual and sometimes it's not even coffee. Sometimes, it's a euphemism for a casual date or a promised reunion. You know, let's have coffee. Not dinner. Not lunch. Not for any length of time. Not even for coffee. Maybe not at all. In Sweden, fika is a "tradition observed frequently," a time set aside for relationships and relaxation. Let's chat with Cody about coffee and fika.
Leslie: Hi Cody, are you drinking coffee now?
Cody: I have been trying to get used to coffee since so many people drink it here. I will drink maybe three cups of coffee a week.
Leslie: How do you define fika?
|Cody and Teresia|
Cody: I don't think most teenagers drink coffee. Most of my friends will get a soda or some water when we go out for fika.
Leslie: At what age do Swedes start drinking coffee?
Cody: I would guess somewhere around age 20 people start drinking coffee.
Leslie: Do you like your coffee black, with or without sugar, with or without milk?
Cody: I drink my coffee black about 75% of the time and use milk only about 25% of the time. During my entire time in Sweden, I haven't seen a single person put sugar in their coffee. Some people will put milk, but not many.
Leslie: Thanks, Cody. Norrtälje looks like a lovely visit and fika seems like a nice tradition.