I am not a coffee drinker. Never have been. Stockholm is a coffee drinking town. In fact, Sweden is one of the largest coffee-consuming countries in the world. Coffee is such a big deal here that there is even a special word for having a cup of coffee: fika.
Fika means much more than just stopping to have a cup of coffee, however. It is a social institution. It means taking a break to have coffee and conversation with friends, family or co-workers. Fika time is used as a break at work or also to discuss issues. With a friend, it is a time to get caught up. With the coffee, you might also have some sort of sweet such as a kannelbulle (cinnaomon roll) or my favorite the chocolate ball.
I like the word fika and I like the concept. But when you don’t drink coffee, you can feel a bit like a social outcast here. Sure, I always go ahead and join in on fika. But drinking tea is just not the same somehow and most people will comment something like: you don’t drink coffee. How odd. In Italy this summer (where drinking coffee is also an institution), I even tried to learn how to drink coffee by ordering it with lots of milk. It didn’t work for me. It still tasted like coffee.
Robert tells me that maybe I will grow up someday and like coffee. But just not now.