It wasn’t so long ago that another Swedish invention started making its way to the rest of the world … which is a good thing, because such a tradition shouldn’t be exclusive to one country. We’re talking about fika — a rather important concept, really, that has slowly been catching on around the globe.

Recently, the BBC got wind of it and found one of the pioneers who brought fika to London and the United States, where its waves of success have been rippling from an increasing number of cafes in New York.


Fika, which the BBC described as being comprised of three key ingredients — coffee, munching and chatting — is an important part of Swedish culture, a key player in personal, social and professional environments. It's more than just a coffee break. It's time set aside to relax, turn attention to tasting something delicious, have intentional conversation, maybe even exchange important ideas. It may be only 10 minutes (according to the 2012 Annual Fika Report the average duration is actually 52 minutes), but its rewards are many. Some Swedish companies even make coffee breaks mandatory and offer employees free hot drinks.

Lars Åkerlund is a modern day fika pioneer. He moved from Sweden in 2001 and opened New York’s first FIKA coffee shop in 2006 near Central Park. He wanted to sell New Yorkers really good coffee, but that’s not all: He wanted to give them a new perspective on life. With coffee from a specialty roaster in Brooklyn and pastries made on-site, he encouraged customers to sit and enjoy their coffee and bun. He said, "In New York it was all about grab and go, but I thought that if I offered something really good I could change people’s way of doing things, make them stop and relax.”

In 2013 Nordstjernan visited FIKA, just in time to see them make one of the crème de la crèmes (pun intended) of fika treats: the semla, very important to Scandinavians at this time of year. Take a look at our interviews and demo here: And more of the BBC story is here.

Perhaps the success of Åkerlund’s intentions shows in the fact that he now has 17 cafes with another two on the way. For fika. And whether you’re in Sweden, in New York or anywhere else, you can rest assured there’s plenty of evidence that reveals taking a break makes you more productive when you return to work. And it just feels good. So go "take a fika."