It’s my new favourite word. A Swedish term which translates as “to have coffee” but really it means much, much more. It’s about socialising with your favourite people over a hot cup, ideally with a delicious bread bun or pastry on the side. It’s become an important part of Swedish culture, and during my recent trip to the country’s capital, Stockholm, I had my fare share of “fika” time.
My first experience was on our very first morning in the clean, pretty and chilly city. Hungry for bread and coffee, we headed to Albert and Jacks. Welcomed by an enticing display of buns and pastries, glistening with sugary coatings, oozing with indulgence, we prepared ourselves for a very sweet hit. But the buns we chose had only a slightly sweet dough and were complimented by subtle savoury toppings/fillings – one a dusting of black pepper (yes that’s right – there’s a photo if you don’t believe me!) and the other lightly flavoured with saffron. We sat in the window, sipping our cappuccinos and chatting with excitement about the days ahead.
Many “fika” experiences followed during the trip. One of the most notable was a place we’d spotted when we first walked from the bus station to our hotel. Vette-Katten is a sophisticated yet cosy bakery and cafe in the heart of Stockholm, with a large glass counter filled to the brim with pastries, breads, biscuits, cakes and sandwiches. The choice was somewhat overwhelming for an indecisive person like me, but an apple and vanilla bun quickly caught my eye. Also intrigued by the biscuit selection, we chose what I can only describe as the best jammy dodger I’ve ever had, which we ate alongside our buns. As you do.
You can’t go to Stockholm in December without a visiting a Christmas market. The sweet, distinctive smell of Swedish mulled-wine, or “glogg”, filled the air in all three markets we strolled around, and unsurprisingly, they also featured stalls piled high with gooey buns and spiced muffins.
Just down the road from our hotel was another of our favourite “fika” spots. Urban Deli is a trendy and relaxed coffee shop by day and a bustling bar and restaurant by night, as well as a deli throughout. Serving the high-quality “fika” fare we’d become accustomed to, it became our breakfast stop two-mornings in a row. Very apt I think that the last meal during our Stockholm trip consisted of a steaming cup of coffee and an almond-topped cinnamon bun.
Photography and words by Carys Notley
For more from Carys, follow her on Twitter at @carys_notley
Oh, and don’t forget to check out our store for prints from our travels and more!