During my first week as a member of Team Hattrick, I was asked by several people if I was ready for ‘Fika’. I had no idea what ‘Fika’ was, but because I was new and I wanted to make a good first impression, I nodded my head and said, “Of course, looking forward to it!”.
I’d never heard of a word like ‘Fika” before, I assumed it must have been some sort of fancy business acronym that I had not yet been exposed to.
What could it mean? Financial Intelligence Knowledge Analysis, perhaps? Functional Initiative Kilogram Appraisal? First-day Induction Kayak Adventure?
It did not mean any of these things.
My old pal Google reliably informed me that ‘Fika’ could be roughly translated to ‘tea break’ on this side of the Nordic Sea. Actually, ‘coffee break’ may be the closer translation since ‘Fika’ is a play on the Swedish word for coffee (kaffe), and is formed by swapping the first and second syllables around.
What Makes it Swedish?
So what makes Fika distinctly Swedish? It does not, as I first imagined, take place in a sauna. Nor do all the cakes need contain meatballs and pickled herring. And an accompanying ABBA soundtrack is only advised, rather than regarded as essential.
Fortunately, it turns, out none of those things make Fika Fika. The difference to the average elevenses is that, at its core, it’s all about slowing down from the often hectic pace of the office, and taking the time to chat and interact with those you live and work with.
You can also expect to find a variety of Swedish delicacies when you sit down to Fika. Instead of scones, we get sockerkaka, Battenbergs are replaced by Kanelbullar, and Carrot Cake makes way for Kladdkaka. It used to be that, for it to be considered a proper Fika, the host would need to serve seven different types of cakes and biscuits. However, this convention is rarely observed these days, much to the dismay of Sweden’s bakers and confectioners.
In the UK, we seem to have deconstructed the tea break, placing greater emphasis on the ‘tea’ than the ‘break’. So whilst we may be nipping off to boil the kettle every half an hour, we’re not taking the time to slow down, sit down, and wind down: that is, we’re not really taking a break.
And whereas many British workplaces often discourage tea breaks if you were behind on a deadline, it’s almost expected that everyone disengages from what they’re working on and joins in with Fika, usually in the dedicated ‘Fikarum’. Therein lies another great difference from a tea break, Fika is a communal experience that is meant to be shared with others. Work can wait for thirty minutes. And after those thirty minutes, you can go back to work rested, recharged and replete with cake.
What is a Hattrick Fika?
Whilst still remaining true to the core principles of Fika, we’ve put our own unique twist on the classic formula.
You may be shocked to know that, being based in Salford Quays, we aren’t all Swedish pastry experts. So we’ve needed to adapt to the talents that we do have.
We have a weekly rota that puts forward someone each week to cater for the entire Hattrick crew.
Our Fika takes place every Friday at around 2:30pm. Times differ depending on the organisation skills of the week’s Fika host, and the number of cups of tea that need to be made.
Fika has evolved from simply bringing in a cake, to developing an all-encompassing theme for each week. So far, our themes have included:
- ‘Classic Swedish Fika’ – Kanelbulle, Punchrulle, and Chokladboll;
- ‘Just-as-classic, If Not More Classic English Afternoon Tea’ – Scones with jam and clotted cream, Battenberg cakes, and jam tarts;
- ‘All-American Sugar-fest’ – baked New York-style cheesecake, American cookies and Pop Tarts;
- ‘Ka pai kai’ – a smorgasbord of New Zealand sweets, including Lolly Cake, Pineapple Lumps, and chocolate-orange BBs;
- ‘90s Kids’ Birthday Party’ (Jammie Dodgers, Party Rings and Jelly).
So, as you can see, we’ve got quite the eclectic taste at Hattrick, and each week’s Fika is completely different from the last. The one thing that never changes though is that we sit down on a Friday afternoon, have a chat, discuss what went down during the week that was, and what we’re looking forward to at the weekend.
Fancy Joining Us for a Spot of Fika?
I must confess there is a downside to Fika. As my global culinary knowledge has increased, so has my waistline. This has led me to propose a ‘Healthy Fika’ once a month, in which we forgo cakes and biscuits for celery, cottage cheese, and whatever else healthy people eat. As you may have guessed, this proposal went down like an under-proved Dundee cake with the rest of the team.
Nevertheless, we’d like to send out an open invitation to join us on our Fika Fridays. Whether you’re a current client, potential client, former client, project partner, job applicant, family-member, friend, or general well-wisher – you’re all very welcome to come along for some tea and cake. Do let us know beforehand though, we’d be very embarrassed if we were to run out of Kanelbulle and Punchrulle.