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Scandinavian Coffee Culture: Guide, Facts & FAQ

person having coffee and cake

If you have ever been to a Scandinavian country, it likely didn’t take you long to notice a Nordic coffee shop. They are on just about every corner in every village and city, and it’s a big part of their culture.

But what exactly is Scandinavian coffee culture, how does it work, and how does it manifest itself in their everyday life? We’ll answer all those questions and more for you here. That way, on your next trip to a Scandinavian country, you know what all the fuss is about!

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What is Scandinavian Coffee Culture Like?

Scandinavian coffee culture is a bit of a unique phenomenon only in how strongly it is taken over Scandinavian countries, considering they can’t grow any of the necessary coffee beans there.

Common theories as to why Scandinavian coffee culture is a thing range from their time of prohibition, the initial exclusivity of the drink, and to the colder and darker climate in the country. While there’s no way to know for sure why coffee is such a popular drink option there, there’s no denying that it is an extremely popular drink and a big part of the culture.

Not only are morning, afternoon, and evening cups of coffee an integral part of Scandinavian coffee culture, but taking a particular break for coffee is a huge part of the culture as well. Called “fika” in Sweden and “kaffepause” in Norway, this refers to a time when you take a step back with colleagues, friends, or family for a cup of coffee and a baked good.

Fika/kaffepause can range from hours to as short as 10 minutes, the important part is that it’s a time to slow down and take a break with a cup of coffee. This is a big difference from American culture where many coffee drinkers take their drinks in a to-go cup so they can have their cup of coffee without slowing down throughout the workday.

There’s no limit on the number of Fika breaks someone can take throughout the day, and often, many workplaces will incorporate Fika breaks into their work culture to create a more laid-back and communicative environment for their employees.

a cup of coffee on a saucer
Image Credit: Richard Balane, Pexels

What Are the Different Types of Scandinavian Coffee Cultures?

When it comes to Scandinavian coffee culture, you can experience it in a few different ways. We’ve already highlighted Fika for you, but Scandinavian coffee culture manifests itself in more ways than that.

Other ways Scandinavians bring coffee into their lives include turkaffe, corner coffee shops, and kask. Turkaffe refers to coffee hikes. This tradition combines going out exploring nature and getting some exercise while getting a hot beverage.

Corner coffee shops exist in just about every village and you can find them on tons of corners throughout the country. If you head out around lunchtime, or in the evenings, you can see people milling about inside these coffee shops enjoying a hot beverage.

Finally, if traditional coffee shops, Fika, and turkaffe aren’t enough coffee for Scandinavians, kask gives them yet another opportunity to drink more coffee. Kask is an alcoholic version of coffee that many Scandinavians drink when they’re out or before heading out for a night on the town.

When it comes to Scandinavian coffee culture, there are many types and styles people could be referring to. Whether it’s Fika, turkaffe, or kask, Scandinavians can’t get enough coffee and they’re more than willing to incorporate it into their lives in unique ways.

coffee and breads for breakfast
Image Credit: Pixabay

Which Countries Are Included?

Scandinavia isn’t a specific country; instead, it’s a region in Europe. When most people talk about Scandinavia, they’re talking about one of three Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway, or Denmark.

But while Scandinavian coffee culture is a thing in all three Nordic countries, the Swedes tend to exhibit the strongest elements of this culture. Still, if you head to Norway or Denmark, you’re going to see examples of Scandinavian coffee culture in their everyday lives.

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Advantages of Scandinavian Coffee Culture

Scandinavian coffee culture has a few perks for people living there. First, it creates natural ways for people to connect with others, and it provides natural ways for people to slow down and take breaks throughout the day.

Moreover, coffee has tons of potential health benefits, so adding a few cups of coffee to your daily diet can be something that’s beneficial in the long run.

Disadvantages of Scandinavian Coffee Culture

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with Scandinavian coffee culture, if you’re moving to a Scandinavian country and you don’t like coffee, you might find it hard to connect with others.

We recommend trying to find another beverage at the café that you like. That way, if someone invites you out for Fika or something similar you can join them and get something you will actually drink!

having coffee after hiking

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you’re traveling to a Scandinavian country, you will notice their coffee culture. But the more you learn, the more questions it brings up. We understand, and it’s why we decided to address some of the most frequently asked questions for you here:

What Kinds of Coffees Do Scandinavians Drink?

It depends on which Scandinavian country you go to. In Norway, the most popular brand of coffee is Evergood Kaffe, Merrilld is the most popular coffee brand in Denmark, and Gevalia and Löfberg are popular in Sweden.

What Does Fika Mean?

Fika is a type of social outing in Scandinavian countries. It’s a break that centers around coffee and a pastry item, and it can happen at any point throughout the day. It’s all about taking the time to slow down!

How Many Cups of Coffee Do Swedes Drink Each Day?

On average, people in Sweden drink a little over 3 cups of coffee each day. This is the average for every adult in Sweden, and there are plenty of people who drink far more than 3 cups of coffee each day.

How Long Does Fika Last?

Fika can range anytime from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on the situation. For Fika work breaks the time typically ranges from 10 to 30 minutes, but for friends catching up on their own time, it can last far longer!

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Scandinavian coffee culture is just a part of everyday life in Nordic countries, and it certainly seems like it’s here to stay. In fact, Fika is a custom that’s slowly starting to spread throughout the rest of Europe, and taking the time to slow down and enjoy a cup of coffee with coworkers, friends, and family seems like a pretty good idea to us!

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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