An audiophile’s guide
to Swedish Fika
In case you didn’t know, Sweden runs on coffee! In fact, we have some of the highest numbers of coffee consumption per capita in the world, and the word ‘Fika’ is slowly becoming known world-wide. But what is Fika? And why do Swedes keep it as a sacred untouchable daily event? Let us guide you, to the audiophile’s perfect Swedish ‘Fika’.
In 1668 coffee was first introduced to Sweden and quite frankly, nobody liked it. It wasn’t a very big hit and over time it was mostly used for medicinal purposes.
Fast forward 42 years to 1710 when the first coffee house opens in Stockholm and Swedish coffee culture begins to take off. However, coffee still isn’t very popular amongst the royal house of Sweden and between the years 1756 to 1822 there were five coffee bans. Needless to say, the royal houses did not manage to close down the hot and trendy coffee frenzy Sweden was about to enter.
Slowly but surely the idea of having small social mini breaks while having coffee at work or during the day grew among the population and the social commitment became what is now a Swedish ethos in the core of its’ society and social life. It was even adopted by employers as they increasingly became aware of the benefits of a small social break during the day.
But we need to break it down even further to understand why ‘Fika’ has become a Swedish institution. Swedish people have never taken freedom lightly, and with that comes the right to have a decent life and social activity. Fika was the perfect excuse to take ten minutes off and socialise at work or with friends at a point of the day where you need a little extra boost.
And since the five historical bans of coffee, it has become a tool for workers to say, “Now it’s my time to talk or do something other than work!”, it is simply a minor subconscious rebellious act that we have all adopted and agreed on that has slowly grown into a culture of it’s own.
Fika is also reflects the flatter management style that Swede’s value very dearly. No matter if you are the cleaner, the CEO, the engineer, or the accountant at a company, the fika is there to knit everyone together as a group. The result, a more pleasant and productive work environment. In fact, a study conducted in the UK revealed a 24% in productivity following the introduction of fika in the daily work schedule.
Fika time is your time, and it must be celebrated! And while coffee is the main ingredient in a successful ‘Fika’ there must also be food! There are hundreds of cookies, cakes, and other ways to create your own style of a favourite Fika. One of the most common combinations is `kaffe och kanelbulle´ or coffee and cinnamon rolls. There is hardly anything better in this world than stepping inside a warm cabin door after a few hours out in the cold Swedish winter with cold feet and gentle frostbite on the cheeks while smelling newly baked cinnamon rolls and freshly brewed coffee! In fact… it’s so great that I feel the need for a Fika, right now just at the thought of it… be right back.
Slurp… Alright so, where was I? Oh yes, to complete the Fika! Now, as an audiophile I appreciate my own time spent with my system, it is simply my time, and no one can interfere with it. The feeling of sitting down and listening to an album that you haven’t played for a while with a freshly brewed pot of coffee and a freshly baked cinnamon roll straight out of the oven is somewhat of a sacred moment. It is my ‘Fika’ time, life is made from small moments like this!
Cinnamon bun recipe
35 g (1¼ oz) yeast
100 g (3½ oz) sugar
300 ml (1½ cup) milk
120 g (4 oz) butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbs ground cardamom
750 g (26 oz) flour
100 g (4 oz) butter
50 g (2 oz) sugar
2 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs water
Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of milk. Melt the butter and pour the milk on it. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough in a dough mixer for 10–15 minutes. Let the dough rise while covered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough so it is about 3 mm (1/8 in) thick and 30 cm (12 in) wide. Spread the room-temperature butter on top. Make a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the dough. Roll the dough the long way and cut the roll into about 25 slices. Place them with the cut edge upward in paper molds. Place on a baking sheet and let rise under a towel for about 60 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
Beat together the egg and water, brush the mixture carefully on the buns and sprinkle pearl sugar on top. Bake in the oven (220°C/425°F) for 5–6 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.
(Please note that there may be as many cinnamon bun recipes as there are bakers out there – this is just one version.)
Recipe from www.sweden.com