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Locals in Nordic countries house a deep appreciation for the importance of a good coffee break. In Sweden, this is referred to as “Fika”, “ Bica” in Denmark, and in Finland, ”Kahvi”. In Norway, the phrase “skal vi ta en pause”, meaning “shall we take a break”, is used. Multiple cups of joe are enjoyed throughout the day, and in Finland, where the most coffee is consumed per capita than anywhere else in the world, each break throughout the day is given its own name, kind of like breakfast, lunch and dinner. From an after-lunch iced coffee to a bedtime brew, a tasty pastry, like one of those famous cinnamon rolls are often paired alongside. Intrigued? We’ve come up with some ways to enjoy Fika, or Kahvi at home, until you can make the flight over.
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Use Lightly Roasted Beans
Of course you have to have coffee, and the Finnish traditionally enjoy a much lighter roast than what might be familiar at your neighborhood Starbucks. While a light roast can be bought from just about anywhere, some Nordic companies like Helsinki’s based Paulig will ship, to add to the authenticity. By lightly roasting beans, more of the flavor complexity is preserved, and the result is a bit zingier.
You have the beans. Now how do you brew? Espresso machines and electric coffee pots do exist in Scandinavia, especially among the younger crowd. But simple, pure drip through coffee is the method of generations. A glass canister and a filter are used in the straightforward process, and this can also pull through more of those aromatic oils that are sometimes missed out on when the brewing is rushed.
Only Use Quality Ingredients—and an Egg
Scandinavia sources many ingredients locally and ethically, and that goes for the stuff that is put into coffee as well. Grass-fed milk truly makes a difference in the mouthfeel and taste, and glycemic stable sugar sources bring enzymes and nutrients to the table. One more thing you might need is an egg (for real). Combining a crushed egg, shell and all, with coffee grounds before brewing removes bitter impurities and makes for significantly great flavor. Be sure to look up specific methods on how to do this.
Change Up the Time Frame
Most Americans likely have their coffee time in the morning. To make things feel a bit more like a real Fika or Kahvi session, opt for a more unusual time of the day, like noon, or right after everyone gets home from work. At times, coffee is even enjoyed before bed in Finland, but it seems like that might not result in the best night’s sleep.
Use a Special Cup
Enjoying coffee from a favorite cup is probably a universal thing, but the Finnish typically have something special to sip their brew from. So if you have that one mug which makes every morning special, you’re already a step ahead. But one particular style has been beloved for decades in the country—Moomin Mugs. Adorned with characters created by an artist in the 40s, different editions continue to be released and are basically an important stitch in the fabric of the coffee culture.
Bake Some Cinnamon Rolls
A Scandinavian cinnamon roll can be called a Pula (Finnish) or Kanelbullar (Swedish) among other terms. Cakes and a variation of sweets may accompany coffee too, but pillowy rolled dough infused with cardamom and cinnamon, topped with pearls of sugar are the most iconic. Maybe you already have a great recipe, or maybe you just want to keep it simple and grab a pack of ready to bake Annie’s rolls from the store—either way works.
Cozy Up the House--Cafe Style
Scandinavian coffee shops are ultra-cozy. And while sweet-smelling pastries bake and coffee brew will mostly do the trick, you can create your own ambiance at home. Add your own ambient lighting, sit in a comfy chair near the best window in the house and pull our your most adorable plates to serve treats.
Gather Some Company
Coffee breaks in Scandinavia are seen as more of a social thing above all else (it’s okay to be excited about the cinnamon roll). From weddings, funerals, voting days (yep) and just a good ole fashioned girl’s day out, coffee is about being around people. When you go to someone’s home, expect and politely accept a cup. If you’ve been asked out by a potential romantic interest, consider Fika a casual “pre-date”.
One of the most pleasant things about these social beverage breaks is the fact that silence is totally acceptable. That’s right, in Finland, there’s not really any pressure to say a word, and one can just enjoy company, and peaceful silence simultaneously. It’s a pretty magical combination.