There’s Always Time For Fika

The first thing we noticed at the Finish Embassy in Stockholm is that the intercom on the front door only has 2 buttons: Reception and Sauna. Apparently, for those that know the Finnish people, this was not surprising in the least. However, the most memorable aspect of our visit was our host Lars’ push to introduce the Swedish tradition of Fika. Before the presentation began, the team at the embassy laid out a spread of coffee, water, and cinnamon buns and encouraged us to have a drink and snack and mingle before we sat down to listen. They then explained the tradition of “fika”.

Fika is the act of “stopping everything to sit down for a cup of coffee” for about a 15-45 minute break.  But fika is much more than that. The purpose of fika is to take time away from your work to enjoy the company of friends, family, and even coworkers by sharing your time with them while enjoying coffee and treats. This is a great way to break up the day and make sure that you are enjoying what really matters, which is interacting with other people. However, you do not just take fika during your work time. You may fika after work or on the weekends and it can even be a coffee date with a significant other. Additionally, the word fika is versatile. It can be used as both a noun and a verb. For instance, “have a fika” or “to fika.”

Finland and Sweden are among the top 10 coffee consuming nations in the world, with Finland being the number one coffee consuming nation. Understanding this tradition of fika, it is clear as to why they top the list.

In the US, although we have coffee breaks, the goal is primarily to have a break from work, or re-energize ourselves to continue working. But the  American workforce can really benefit by adopting the fika culture. With our busy and hectic schedules we often forget to take time out of our day to relax and enjoy the company of their people. Interestingly enough, Sweden and Finland are also among the top 10 happiest countries in the world, again with Finland taking the top spot. There definitely seems to be some correlation between happiness and coffee consumption. I think when I get back home to the States I’ll be implementing a daily Fika.