Americans used to have more of a coffee break tradition, back before Starbucks were on every corner — now you can get coffee anywhere, anytime — and also, when others would be out for their smoke break. Sweden still proudly keeps up the coffee break tradition; they call it “fika”. In some offices, Friday is a day for Fika and don’t even think about taking it away! A big part of Fika is not only the coffee, but the cinnamon rolls. Swedes sure do love their cinnamon rolls with coffee.
I was very happy to be hosted to experience fika at Rusthållargården, a luxury resort on Sweden’s Skane area coast. It originates from buildings constructed in 1675, but were formally converted to a hotel about 100 years ago. The same family still owns it. By the way, it seems to be a great place stay: private villas with private indoor pools cost the same as staying in the main lodge. Their conference rooms are truly state-of-the-art with charming historic rooms rigged up to secretly hold the latest in projection and sound equipment. If you are the lucky spouse who is footloose and fancy free, you can enjoy the services of their luxe spa.
The chef at Rusthållargården is doing interesting things. No, it’s not weird, it’s new in its harkening back hundreds of years to what the finest chefs were doing. Everything is being made in-house. The rolls, Swedish crisps, even the butter and yogurt. Unlike the US, they can have fresh, unpasturized milk from local farms. Local nettles and elderberries are wild-gathered for meals and drinks, kind of like at the famous Danish restaurant, Noma. Local fishermen bring the catch of the day.
The atmosphere for Fika is cozy: you can sit in front of a gas fireplace, gaze out to the sea.Fika (coffee break) at Sweden’s Rusthållargården [classic article]