Swedish Language Blog

The verb ‘att fika’ Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in Culture

Swedes have a wonderful verb, ‘att fika’, meaning to have a cup of coffee (or tea) with something sweet or with a sandwich and preferably in the company of colleagues or friends.

There is no really good translation for this verb and many people think that the word should be imported into the English language.  Both the verb, as well as the custom of taking a well-earned break from a hectic lifestyle would be welcome additions to other cultures’ way of living.

 The Swedish café branch is growing like never before.  During the period 2007-2010, sales at cafés rose by 20% and if this trend continues, sales will surpass 4 billion Swedish Crowns this year.  Why is this so?  Earlier Swedes ‘fikade’ at home or at work, but now it has become more popular to ‘fika’ out on the town.  Cafés have become the new living rooms and Swedes have changed where they meet up with friends.  Going out for a ‘fika’ is cheaper and less time-consuming than meeting out for dinner, which could be another explanation.

 Good old-fashioned ‘kaffe’ (coffee) is still the choice of brew when ‘fika-ing’, though there are of course espressos, capachinos, lattes and teas.

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  1. Jacki Page:

    We already HAVE imported it!! We have many nice “fika places” all over England & Wales, & showed some of our favourite ones to our friends Marie och Hakan when they were over a fortnight ago!

  2. Mark Taylor-Batty:

    I always understood the verb was simply a form of the word Kaffe spoken backwards, as with the French ‘verlan’ slang. Anyone know if this is the case?

  3. Amy Johnson Hodges:

    I wonder how American Colombia Coffee is different from Swedish Kaffe?

  4. Jerry Nelson:

    This is one of my favorite verbs! Right up there with “trivs”!

  5. Judy Akins:

    Could you please show the pronunciation and use it in a sentence?

  6. Katja:

    Ska vi ta en fika? = Should we take a cup of coffee?

    Vi gick och fikade. = We went to a cafe.

    Sorry for the late reply 😉

  7. Luke:

    Going to have a fika in IKEA with my team tomorrow morning 😉

  8. Kathi Harter Keefe:

    “att fika” was one of the first expressions I learned in Swedish, and very useful!

  9. Jen:

    The verb att ‘fika’ is definitely a welcome addition to the English language. It is soooo much more than just a coffee break.

    When foreign companies buy up Swedish ones, they often try to get rid of the ‘fika’ sessions (morning and afternoon) at work to save on worktime but meet with resistance.