One of the things I love about Patti Smith’s book M Train is the insight into her everyday life. How she loves a local coffee and a TV crime drama. At the Greenwich Village coffee shop, Smith has a favourite corner table and admits to experiencing a ‘petulant possessiveness’ whenever it’s taken. I have a favourite window seat at my local coffee shop and though I’ve huffed and rolled my eyes when it’s occupied, I’ve never resorted to waiting it out in the bathroom. On the days when I’m working from home and have a deadline, I like to carve out enough time for a local coffee. It doesn’t take very long but both my brain and my back appreciate a 15-minute break and I get a cup of proper coffee (no matter what I do, the stuff I make at home is dreadful), and can return to my computer refreshed and caffeinated. Turns out I’ve been practising the Swedish art of fika (pronounced feeka) without even realising it. I just thought I was having a coffee and a cake. There’s a fika book by Anna Brones and Johanna Kinvall on the art of the Swedish coffee break, available HERE.

Fika-the-art-of-the-swedish-coffee-break-by-anna-brones-and-johanna-kindvall-conde-nast-traveller-14april15-pr_540x810In the book, the authors explain Fika as:

‘Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.’

Photo: Conde Nast Traveller

Here are some good places for fika in London, obviously it helps if you’re embracing Hygge Chic

17 thoughts on “Finding time for Fika

  1. I love this…since I became self employed I have a local cafe where I can meet or sit along by a fire…enjoy a bowl of soup or coffee. And the atmosphere just feeds me. I enjoyed this read, Alyson.

  2. I had a cinnamon bun and a coffee in the Nordic cafe earlier today and it was delicious. We were on our way to the Photographer’s Gallery to see the exhibition you recommended and I really loved that too. So thanks for that.

  3. There is something really lovely about someone making a really good cup of coffee FOR you, I could make a cup of decent enough coffee for myself but watching the ritual of it being made and then placed in front of you – oooooh bliss. I can’t quite explain why it is so lovely – maybe it is partly the feeling that you are being cared for and looked after and everything is right with the world and another person is sorting “stuff” despite now I’m theoretically an adult (51yrs) that feels really lovely. Watching a decent cup of coffee being made, (flat white, please and thank you if you are asking) makes this transplanted kiwi very/pathetically happy – especially if it involves a little snackerel to keep that coffee company – sheer heaven. And there is a wonderful place in Glasgow that maybe I love a little too much

  4. I FIKA ALL THE TIME………but without the PASTRY as I am GLUTEN FREE!!!
    Once in a GREAT while the husband surprises me with a gluten free pastry………………….I DEVOUR IT!Still NOT the same as the real THING!SO< FIKA away and eat one for me please!I'm the ANTIQUE GODDESS on instagram!!I have SIGNED UP for your POSTS so I will be in the KNOW!By the way I bought your book and let a friend READ before I had…….she is coming for FIKA on THURSDAY and BETTER HAVE THAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Now I know why it seemed that, on almost every page of the Millenium trilogy, someone was stopping off to have coffee! Drove me mad when I was reading it – started counting the number of times it happened and began to worry about how no-one seemed to eat anything other than a sandwich! My tip on special coffee for those work in the home days….buy jamaican blue coffee beans, grind them and drink with/without milk…..per cup probably more expensive than one in a cafe but so lovely!

  6. You have been going scandi for a while now. How nice, the Danish Hygge and the Swedish Fika are both gifts to the rest of the world. Being a Norwegian myself I`d like to introduce what I think we do better than most: Hytte. The mountain (or sea-side) cottage dream made possible for the average John and Sally through simplicity and pared back interiors, an open fire, a wood-burner. Charming and with a lot of Hygge. Out-door loo and water in the brook. Just sayin` to give you an idea Alyson!

  7. Thanks for mentioning Patti Smith’s book – I hadn’t heard of it before, but I’ll look for it.
    Fika sounds like a good habit! Coffee break, elevenses, whatever you call it, it’s nice to stop for a treat and a breather. And having grown up in a second-generation Scandinavian household, I can tell you that coffee is important! I think the key to having decent coffee at home is to buy fresh-ground and then keep it refrigerated. It’s sooooo much better than anything that’s been in a package for any length of time.

  8. Oh God, Patti just goes on getting better, the style icon of my youth has now given the nod to my cafe and crime drama habits…………
    I used to try and cut back on my cafe habit on financial grounds but actually I really enjoy it and often generate my best ideas in a cafe surrounded by convivial noise with the one cup of caffeinated coffee I can allow myself. I think it’s my equivalent of a bloke savouring a pint on his own in a really nice pub.

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