Fika: Fabian Schmid’s web series explores the Swedish ritual of having coffee
BY SARAH ALLEN
In Gothenburg, Sweden, last summer for the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe’s World of Coffee event, we wondered about fika. You see the word dotted into text and hear it pop up in conversation constantly, and you know it has to be something really simple ”hasn’t it? So why were we left guessing if it was a pastry, or a type of coffee drink, or even a cafe? My friend asked a barista once, “What is fika?” to which she shrugged. My friend persisted: “Can I order a fika?” Is it food?” The barista shook her head. “It can’t be translated into English,” she said. “Fika is just something… Swedish.” We were left out of an inside story, something too Swedish for us, we supposed, which of course, made us all the more curious.
Thank goodness Fabian Schmid has come along with his delightful, beautiful web series, fika. This 6-part online documentary series is dedicated to exactly what my friend and I sought to learn last summer: What is fika? What does it mean? What is it in and to Swedish culture?
You’d think Fabian is a Swede, right? He’s actually Swiss ”a student in audiovisual media at the Zurich University of the Arts. An admirer of Swedish culture himself, Fabian was just as curious about the concept of fika as my friend and I were last summer. “Throughout the last few years I have developed an interest in Swedish culture and day-to-day life. After some (road)trips to various places in Sweden, I ended up spending one semester of my studies in Gothenburg in 2015, studying photography at Valand Academy. It didn’t take long until I ”a passionate coffee drinker and self-proclaimed foodie ”was introduced to the concept of fika and learned to enjoy and love this small but essential part of Swedish everyday culture,” Fabian writes on his website.
“Now, a few months back, the time came for me to decide on a topic and come up with a concept for my final project to finish my studies.
A year after I went to Gothenburg to study, I returned to various Swedish cities to make a web series about fika, and about the stories the popular ritual writes,” Fabian continues. “Over the course of three weeks, I visited some of my favorite cafés I knew from my time in Sweden, as well as some new ones. I talked to many people about the essence and concept of fika, about their relation to it, and about the stories they had to tell about it.”
The result of Fabian’s exploration is this delicate, lovely online web series I urge you to watch ”part one debuted today, and the following five episodes will be released every Monday. The series includes interviews with 2016 Swedish Barista Champ Steven Moloney, who originally hails from Australia, and plenty of native Swedes who have differing opinions on what the concept of fika means culturally.