Fika In Portlandia
It’s a verb, it’s a noun, it’s an art! Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is a seemingly new word being bandied about town, but it is actually an age-old coffee custom that hails from Sweden.
A ritual-fueled respite replete with a cup of kaffe and a sugary sweet indulgence. In the traditional sense, it was a gathering of friends, or family, around a shared pot of coffee and seven types of cookies from which to choose (it was oft quoted that six cookies made a hostess look cheap, eight— pretentious). In the modern era, indulge alone or with others at a coffee shop, luncheonette, restaurant, or, in Portland, even a food truck. Regardless of place, it’s all about slowing down and savoring the moment. Are you ready to give it go? If so, let’s Fika!
In Swedish, mysig—often heard in conjunction with Fika—denotes a sense of warmth and comfort akin to sipping drinking chocolate in front of a crackling fire on a cold winter’s eve.
Broder perfectly embodies this concept from the light fixtures (representative of the ubiquitous twig lights found throughout Sweden) to the minimalist decor, to the pops of Scandinavian blue, to the food on offer. In truth, it doesn’t whisper mysig, it screams it.
What to order to best experience mysig via Fika? Hot from the pan Abelskivers (round, Danish pancakes). Break open, slather with sweet-tart lingonberry jam or lemon curd, drizzle with maple syrup, and revel in their Danish deliciousness.
Another option is the Fika Bord: a rotating array of Swedish pastries ranging from walnut bread to cookies to coffee cake. Admire and then give in and devour.
Either choice pairs perfectly with a piping hot, cup of inky Water Avenue coffee with a splash of warmed cream from the accompanying bottle.
Fika | Order a cardamom-spiked, pearl sugar-showered Kanelbullar, or cinnamon knot, to evoke a shared afternoon in mormors køkken (grandma’s kitchen).
Broder | 2508 SE Clinton Street | Portland, Oregon | 97202 | 503.736.3333
Viking Soul Food
Fuel for the champions of Valhalla! is the war cry of the Viking Soul Food. Norwegian or not, Fika will keep you fueled for a battle of wits or wills or a long night of philosophical rabble-rousing or reading. Vikings are rule breakers and the modern approach to Scandinavian coffee culture is no exception. Sweet or savory? Tea or coffee? Seven cookies or one perfect lefse? It’s completely up to you.
While there are myriad Norwegian-inspired offerings at Megan and Jeremy’s vintage airstream trailer—lefse is queen. Regardless of filling—smoked salmon, lingonberry, or butter and honey—the potato-based, light as air, griddled flatbread is crafted with love and sprinkled with soul.
Viking Soul Food also adheres to the Pacific Northwest ethos of sourcing local, organic ingredients to craft their offerings. One bite and you will agree—an homage to heritage and place never tasted so good.
Fika | Meatball lefse and lingonberry iced tea. A pairing so magical, you’ll swear Freya conjured it for your personal culinary pleasure.
Viking Soul Food @Bite on Belmont | 4255 SE Belmont Street | Portland, Oregon | 97215 | 971.506.5579
The coffee at Heart Roasters is exactingly and lovingly nurtured from source to cup.
One time pro snowboarder turned master coffee crafter Wille Yli-Luoma roasts beans and brews them into liquid poetry in the light, delicate style of his Finnish homeland.
Yli-Luoma’s nod to Scandinavia doesn’t end with the expertly roasted coffee but extends to the beautifully spare space to create a feeling of Scandi serenity for the oh-so-beautiful kahvi-obsessed clientele.
In a town spilling over with coffee, what sets Heart Coffee Roasters apart? In the words of Yli-Luoma’s business partner and wife, Rebekah, we are incredibly meticulous. Each pull of espresso and cup of coffee is crafted via a multi-step process from the single origin beans, to perfect grind, to the ideal water temperature. The attention to detail announces itself with the first sip and leaves one longing for more on the last. While myriad beans (which change seasonally, but hail from Guatemala,Columbia, Ethiopia, and Kenya) and brewing options (Chemex, halogen siphon, German-designed single cup brewer) abound at Heart Roasters, their signature offerings are the simplest—a double espresso or a cup of drip coffee.
Fika | An AeroPress-brewed cup of single origin coffee (Stereo Seasonal Blend rife with cacao, butterscotch, and huckleberry is a personal favorite) will allow you to shred the day ahead.
Heart Roasters | 2211 E Burnside St | Portland, Oregon | 97214 | 503.206.6602
It is here in this charming, monochromatic, modern-day spin on Villa Villekulla that owner Kristen Murray pays homage to her Norwegian roots coupled with her ardent passion for the art of French pastry.
The result? Exquisitely-crafted pastries, postres, and bits perfect for morning or afternoon Fika: Tarte Tatin (sweet or savory), Petite Macarons, Lemon Soufflé Pudding Cake, Chocolate Pave, or the signature Bird Seed Coconut Cake to name a few of Murray’s ultra-luxe offerings.
While traditional Fika is paired with coffee, tea— from MEM and Smith— takes center stage at Maurice. However, a perfectly brewed cup from Courier coffee is available, if desired.
If libations and sweets are more in keeping with your rule-bending inner Pippi hasten here during the daily happy hour for fer vermut (Do the Vermouth) happy hour.
Fika | Lapsang Souchong tea (pine-smoked black tea kissed with cedar, roasted sugar cane, and sweet cigars) and the Black Pepper cheesecake—bold and adventurous as Miss Longstocking herself.
Maurice | 921 SW Oak St | Portland, Oregon | 97205 | 503.224.9921
Do-It-Yourself culture abounds in Portland and Fika is no exception. For those who prefer to hark back to tradition, grab a copy of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anne Brones and Johanna Kindvall. Brones will take you by the hand and guide you step-by-step through the coffee culture of her ancestors, while Swedish illustrator Kindvall will bring the world of Fika to life via her charming illustrations. In keeping with the everyday or holiday mores of Fika, the recipes range from straightforward (Kaddkaka or sticky chocolate cake) to painstaking (Lussekatter or saffron buns). One thing is sure, whichever recipe you choose, happiness is sure to follow.
If old school cookbooks are more reflective of your Portland-centric spirit, then pick up the 1945 classic Swedish Cakes and Cookies or as it’s known in Sweden—Sju Sorters Kakor. Feeling inspired? Give baking the customary seven cakes and cookies a whirl— butter cookies, cardamom buns, or even a Sockerkaka (sugar sponge cake)—for a sugary sweet insight into the way Swedish mothers prepare Fika.
Fika | Keep it simple, keep it sweet. Try baking Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies). Really, who can resist tradition baked into fairytale shapes?
Powell’s Books | 1005 W Burnside Street | Portland, Oregon | 97209 | 503.228.4651