By Harry Pearse
“Erik, I’ve started drinking a lot of coffee.” “That’s great Harry however are you drinking it the right way? The Swedish way?”
Now, this conversation took place a year or two ago between myself and housemate Erik Berthagan, a senior economics major. Although I said “of course” to Mr. Thor, (as he is also known among friends), I didn’t really understand the concept of drinking coffee properly, or the ‘Swedish way’ as Erik would put it, until I visited Sweden this summer.
“Fika” as they like to call it over there isn’t just the ‘chugging’ of liquid to keep you awake and make you energized: it’s much more than that. It’s a very simple drink, but with complicated properties: the properties of conversation, the atmosphere whilst drinking it, the social aspect of conversing with another person, which in this day and age seems so difficult to do.
Yes, it does give you that boost after a 7 a.m. practice, or the spike after a night out on a Wednesday and you are stumbling like a zombie to that English Lit class at 9:30 a.m.. But if this magical substance is drank at a chic coffee shop in Manhattan, where even the packaging is like a super hip hipster, and as soon as you hold it with that heroic grip and place it around your lips, you are immediately transformed into a Chris Hemsworth lookalike (much like our friend Erik).
Maybe the above description was a little farfetched, but to put it in simpler terms…maybe drinking coffee to just drink coffee and get a buzz isn’t the ‘right’ way to drink it. Perhaps having a coffee with a friend or even better, friend(s), is much grander of an occasion.
On the soccer team, we have a thing called coffee club, where a few of us lads on away trips will go get coffee together. We sit, we exchange ideas, we talk about how our semester is going, we exchange our opinions on current affairs and politics, I usually bore them with spiel on Philosophy, and of course, we talk about soccer.
Something as simple as a cup of coffee with a few comrades can highlight a day, truly. Please you must try it. This notion that Erik spoke to me about is a fantastic concept, and sitting out in the beautiful summer sun in Gothenberg with a ‘kaffe’ in hand, ray bans on and talking with my best friends about anything, is asolute bliss.
What I am trying to convey to my fellow students is creating an excuse to go and socialize, to have social gatherings with other people, to explore different ideas, as well as having a caffeine-high. I really feel that we are extremely social beings, we want to be around company (most of the time), and having one of the vast options of coffee is one way in which we can begin to mingle with one another.
If you are that person who doesn’t drink coffee, which I used to be, the same still applies. You can have tea or a hot chocolate, but being there, being PRESENT with your friends to discuss things and understand different ideals, getting to know one another, is the true concept of fika.
It is common in other cultures—the “Middle Easterns” who use the drinking of coffee as a social event to catch up on gossip, or the Italians who have three or four variations of coffee for a particular part of the day. But in the United States, we seem to just drink it on the go, while we are getting from A to B, and it seems to be such a waste.
So, are you drinking it the right way? If not, grab a companion and get to a coffee shop; talk, smile and engage.