A tradition ritual coffee break ‘Fika‘ is an integral part of Swedish society that is widely unknown in most other countries. It is a typical Swedish thing. It’s an institution; it is like a mini break in the day. And it is about coffee, about cinnamon buns and of course, about people.
To help you understand better, let’s talk about two topics.
1. Taking a break; seems quite a taboo for a lot of people. That is almost like shunned upon and it is almost like a rite of passage to just like working 24/7, grinding 24/7 every single day, every single year. It’s almost like its frowned upon. It seems like a weakness ‘you can’t even hustle‘ and it is something that I feel like a lot of people just discourage each other from taking a break. These people are all the time like ‘I just worked 20 hours, this last day and I only got two hours of sleep. I know I’m back at it. I’m grinding away and I’m working it.’ 2. Coffee; Every day the world consumes 300 tons of caffeine enough for one cup of coffee for every man woman and child. Caffeine is the world’s most used psychoactive drug and with good reason it is pure awesome. It increases concentration, decreases fatigue and gives you a better memory. You know what else you can thank caffeine for? A little thing called the Enlightenment. In the 1600s, people drank more beer and gin than water but with the introduction of coffee and tea, people switched from a depressant to a stimulant.
Taking a break + Coffee = FIKA (There’s actually more to that, but consider it as a slang.)
Though, what makes Fika so special? Taking a closer look at the popular Swedish coffee break, there are different definitions. Being in a coffee house is Fika, when you talk to your friends or a get-together thing. It’s just a word for what they do. Like the way they drink coffee, in the way they eat the pastries and hang around in like a coffee shop.
It’s the essential Swedish word that you have to know, if you ever go to Sweden, knowing that word is not just a fun thing, it’s actually a way of getting into society. So, Fika seems to be quite an important to Swedish people but it really is an institution. In Sweden, it’s something everybody does regardless of age. It usually involves some kind of hot drink usually coffee. Because Swedish love coffee. It’s basically having coffee and cake and socializing with your friends. I think it’s a great way for people to hang out and do things together. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve socializing with other people; you can sometimes just bring a book and have coffee somewhere.
Coffee is an important part of daily life in many other countries as well. What makes Fika different from just a coffee break? It’s such a cultural phenomenon in Sweden. You have the same concept in a lot of countries but you don’t have a name for it. Traditionally people would sit down comfortably and sit for quite a long time at least an hour or more and have a proper Fika. And that is still an important part of Swedish culture. I think Fika means different things to different people but one thing is for sure it is the fundamental part of Swedish day-to-day life.
You can Fika at home as well. We Fika all the time, we have a Fika during the weekend with our friends too. It’s just a very natural thing to do. Coming back to breaks. When you take a break, you come back so much more energized, creative, passionate and enthusiastic about whatever it is that you’re doing and that just helps you see even further.
So I’m not saying don’t hustle all the time. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing to do. It’s just knowing, that when you get to that point of exhaustion, where you start feeling less productive and it’s like everything starts to just go like a little bit slower. That’s your cue. Take that Fika break. Then come back to it with a new clear, fresh perspective. That’s what I’m talking about here. Almost the same as like running a marathon. You don’t want to put all your energy in the first 50 meters and then after that you’re totally exhausted. It’s really important to know yourself and to work at a pace that you feel comfortable with. That you know you can do long-term.