#5 Fika Off


My round at the coffee machine

I’m about to be deported:

I don’t drink coffee. Bye!

Hmm… seems like I’m still here… I’ll continue until the police arrive.

In Sweden, drinking coffee is a cultural institution. A fika — drinking coffee and eating cake socially — is the primary way to bring people together.

This is so important that it has even become a verb — fikar — meaning ‘to have a sociable coffee together’. You can tell from the length of the English translation that this concept does not exist back in the UK.

The hipster Swedish dude above has a coffee in one hand and a kanelbulle — cinnamon bun — in the other. Buns / Cake are also a critical part of the fika.

Without them, your coffee tastes sad and lonely. And you will soon be sad and lonely too, because by not including bullar you will have committed a serious social faux pas.

On my first day at work, I felt I must absolutely join the post-lunch fika. Coffee makes my brains shake, so I figured I would compromise with tea. I’m English not Italian, I can get away with that.

In my experience, tea comes in a teabag — but there were no tea bags, only a set of apothecary’s jars with loose leaves rustling around inside them. So I tipped some leaves into my mug and poured in the water. Hold on a minute. That doesn’t look right, why won’t it blend together? Apparently loose tea is not like a milkshake, you can’t just mix it in…

Truth is, I don’t drink tea either.

If I am deported, I may be unwelcome in England too.