i love coffee. i love photography. i love writing. i love being an expat. and i most definitely love asheville, north carolina.
so that’s why i’ve started this project. 40 cups. 40 cafes. 40 days. 40 days of fika, to be exact.i invite you all to follow along with me on this 40 day journey of discovery and moments of bliss. i invite you to become as big of a fan of “fikas” as i am.
let me give you the background on this whole 40 days of fika thing: you see, i just moved back to asheville after living in sweden for three years. while i was there, i picked up a few habits that i’ve brought back with me. all of them good, healthy habits, too, i believe. now, there are many, many things i love about sweden, but i must admit that there is one thing that tops the list: fika .
fika is a swedish word that cannot be translated directly to english. don’t go and google translate it. it won’t be right. no verbal or written explanation will quite capture the essence of fika. it is a noun. it is a verb. like i said, it’s a special word. and it must be experienced. only then can you understand the importance and beauty of this un-translatable word.
fika is a cultural part of sweden, found deep within the whole society. when in sweden, you go to have a fika. you meet for fika. and when you meet for fika, you fika. curious yet? here’s what happens.
of course, i am sure that you have figured out that fika involves coffee. yep. fika is the act (if you think of it as a verb) of meeting someone for coffee. but, it’s not to just grab coffee and go, it is to sit down for a leisurely cup o’joe and catch up with someone. to really take some time to enjoy the moments. i suppose one can fika alone, lord knows i made it a part of my life. but, generally it is a morning, noon, afternoon, or evening activity shared between friends or co-workers. if you think it sounds like meeting someone at starbucks to sit and chat for a while, you are not completely wrong, but you are not right either. no, the idea of fika is not engrained into our american psyche, like it is in sweden. you truly have to experience it. perhaps italians have something close to it, i’m not sure.
now, there is a second facet of fika – one that proves just how deep fika roots go in swedish society. you see, no matter where you work, you have a fika break scheduled into your day. and man, the swedes mean business when it comes to fika breaks. at promptly 9:30 or 10, sometime in the mid-morning, everyone leaves their offices, desks, etc. and gathers in the fika room. hold on, americans, you may be thinking that this sounds familiar, like grabbing a coffee in the break room or teacher’s lounge at work. you are wrong. this is nothing like that.
at my place of work, i would always be asked, “are you coming?” by my co-worker, as she was locking her door and heading downstairs for fika. all of us that were working gathered around a table with coffee, tea, sandwiches, fruit, and sometimes something sweet for 30 minutes of talk, discussion, and gossip. we sat together, lit candles , and simply enjoyed each other’s company. sounds cozy, huh? at 10, we all dispersed and headed back to our work.
but guess what? this happened all over again at 2:30/3:00! for real. doctors, therapists, construction workers, everyone everywhere takes time to fika. twice a day.
and if you’re not at work, then you have the luxury of simply meeting someone for fika in a local cafe or inviting someone home. but, no matter where you are, i guarantee that it is a cozy, important moment in an otherwise hectic day.
so, that’s fika. a slow, intentional time to sip coffee and reconnect with yourself and with others. for a coffee lover like myself it doesn’t get any better than that!
now, back to my experiment.
as an avid lover and total follower of the fika culture, i am going to give myself the challenge to experience it every day (working days) for the next 40 days. 8 weeks. i will visit cafes, drink coffee, and soak up the moments. of course i’ll be taking photos, talking to people, and reflecting on every bit of my experience here on this blog. i am certain that 40 days of fika will transform me in some way. will i make new connections? will i learn something about myself? discover new and amazing cafes? i have no idea what to expect, but in the end of my journey, i am certain that i will be changed. plus i’ll have a fabulous list of 40 different cafes in the asheville area.
so, follow along. put on a pot of coffee or grab a cup of tea and sit down to read this blog every day. leave comments. join in the 40 day fika yourself, and let me know how it goes! we’ll do it together! i am so excited!
tomorrow morning the adventure begins. the coffee awaits!
namaste. ~ liz