Coffee is ritual. During the weekdays the routine of turning on the stove, scooping grinds into the french press, pouring water into said press, is the first thing I do every morning. On the weekends coffee happens a bit slower. We drink it while listening to NPR and reading The New York Times. Even when we travel, finding a coffee shop is one of the first things on our itinerary.
When I met Émile Odbäck, author of Fika That!, a book full of ages of Swedish wisdom, in NYC a few months ago, he mentioned never taking a coffee break alone. I was intrigued.
“Coffee in Sweden is strong, but not just in taste,” Nelson said. “It’s a strong connector of people, a strong dose of daily inspiration and a strong reminder to take a step back, breathe and enjoy life.”
The Swedes have a fascinating relationship to coffee. The country banned coffee from 1746 to 1820s, although that ban and high taxes on the drink didn’t stop people from drinking it. Today, companies in Sweden have to legally give their employees at least one 15-minute Fika break each day and some will give their employees two. Normally, these breaks happen at 10:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m.
“At these Fikas, it’s very common to see everybody from the manager to the janitor in the same room, sharing coffee and a snack, for no other purpose than to connect with one another on a human level,” Nelson said.
Here’s Nelson’s recipe for Fika:
Invite a friend, family member, coworker or person you’d like to get to know.
Sit down in a comfortable place and turn off all technology.
Have some coffee and snacks.
Have a conversation about something other than business, politics or the economy.
After 15 minutes, wrap it up and go back to your day feeling refreshed and inspired.