Sweden Has a Sacred Coffee and Pastry Ritual, and You Need to Try It

© Simon Bajada

It sounds so simple: coffee with something sweet to eat. But in Sweden, to fika—which means to take a break for coffee and a pastry—can be a little more complex.

The tradition is best described as an upgraded coffee recess with a focus on the accompanying sweets, the most popular being cinnamon buns, apple cakes, marzipan-cloaked pastries, saffron cookies, coconut-encrusted chocolate balls, and seasonal semlor, the cream-and-almond paste-filled buns scented with cardamom.

But what’s fundamental to fika is what you can’t see: the intention. It’s a designated pause in the day, a regular indulgence around which Swedes commune. In a country where the climate often conspires to keep people apart, the coffee break is a thread that brings them together.

In offices, it’s an afternoon fikapaus, a break with colleagues. At home, it’s a time to catch up with family. For friends, acquaintances, and Tinder dates, it’s a moment to connect at a café (or fik, as locals term it). Going for a hike? Don’t forget the thermos and bullar, the catchall term for soft, yeasted sweet buns.

A sourdough rye loaf from Bageri Petrus. © Simon Bajada

To partake in the pastime, grab a seat at a picnic table in the apple orchards of Rosendals Trädgård, a stunning garden and café with one of the most sustainable menus in the city, or a bistro table beneath the chandeliers at the Viennese-style Wienercaféet.

One spot that ticks every box in the modern fika equation is Bageri Petrus (Swedenborgsgatan 4B), a standout bakery run by 30-year-old Petrus Jakobsson and his wife, Alexandra, with a delicious Koppi beans house roast, superlative cardamom buns (the leftovers are sent to the popular restaurant Bar Agrikultur for its bread pudding), and a cozy atmosphere that invites lingering in long conversation.