London may be sick of Scandinavian trends but there is one, fika, which doesn’t involve an entire lifestyle overhaul or the purchase of costly sheepskin rugs. Fika is a communal coffee break taken twice a day in Sweden — usually involving a cup of strong filter coffee and a cinnamon bun. It’s so sacred in Sweden that, famously, even the Volvo car plant breaks for it. The crucial aspects are that it should be communal, savoured, and it should occur away from your desk — so chugging back a Costa latte at the keyboard really doesn’t count. Fika can’t be hurried however, so only those establishments that allow lingering with a friend count. And as the number of Scandinavian-style cafes in London offering slices of princess cake and knotted cardamom buns has expanded enormously in the past years, here is a round up of the best.Read More
The Best Places in London to Fika
The 10 places to enjoy strong filter coffee and a cinnamon bun on a leisurely break, Swedish style
Soderberg, an established Swedish bakery and café in Edinburgh, arrived on London’s fika scene this year. Alongside the expected cinnamon buns, there are also longer cinnamon plaits for the hungry and kladdkaka — a sticky chocolate cake — as well as the palely beautiful mazarins, which are almond cakes with a white icing.
Curious Yellow Kafe
This might be the friendliest café in London, loved by locals, freelancers and tourists alike. The owner, Shoko Ghanbar, was raised in Stockholm and really understands the art of fika, with a whole blackboard full of different hot drinks. The gifflar, or mini cinnamon rolls, are a steal at 45p each or three for £1.
This is mecca for any homesick Scandinavians: there are a good range of open sandwiches with fillings piled high — fika doesn’t need to be sweet — as well as sticky buns. There is plenty of space to spread out and enjoy fika but they also stock over 600 hard to find Scandinavian groceries.
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These burnished, knotted cinnamon and cardamom buns might be the most beautiful in London. At Christmas, cheeringly yellow saffron buns are also available. In the Hackney branch, watch them being baked in batches in large industrial ovens, should there be any doubt they are made on site.
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Bageriet is a small bakery and café packed to the rafters with sweet treats, and entering it is like winding up in a particularly well-stocked Wendy house in the Swedish woods. Specialities range from slices of princess cake — a light sponge — to ‘gentleman biscuits’ — vanilla biscuits with nib sugar and apricot jam.
This small chain of cafes take fika seriously. Coffee is served in large mugs and the cinnamon rolls are enormous, in the Finnish style. There are also buns filled with blueberry or lingonberry jam on offer and the Swedish classic, Tosca cake — a soft sponge cake with a crispy almond caramel.
The Bread Station
The Bread Station is actually run by a Danish chef Christoffer Hruskova and Per Brun — the latter pioneered sourdough in Denmark. A Swedish source says that the bakery makes the best pastries for fika in London, so it’s all good to savour the deliciously light tebirkes, sweet poppy seed rolls.
Ole & Steen
This small chain of cafes is relaxed enough forlingering . The signature cake is the Christianshavner, a cake with a caramelized hazelnut base topped with strawberry mousse and fresh fruit. The real joy of Ole and Steen, however, is the cinnamon social, a long cinnamon pastry with cinnamon and vanilla that is intended “for sharing.”
ARKET Store and Café
Arket is where Londoners normally head for brightly coloured knitwear and cheaper-than-Aesop handcream, but it also does some excellent pastries in its cafes, particularly sticky buns and seasonal additions to the menu. These cafes are also, somewhat surprisingly, noticeably tranquil spots in spite of their locations.
Hej takes coffee so seriously that there is a barista training school on the premises. If it’s warm enough, linger on the terrace which is prettily decorated with fresh flowers. Others speak highly of the “viking balls” — meatballs wrapped in bread — but this festive season, perhaps stick with the glazed cinnamon buns.