How Do Swedes Drink Coffee?

Most people usually think of Sweden as a hotbed of progressive ideas, a thriving economic juggernaut, and the birthplace of IKEA.

However, they typically don’t think much about how the Swedes take their coffee.

In fact, only a few foreigners have ever used coffee and Swedes in the same sentence, so what’s the truth about Sweden’s coffee-drinking culture?

Most Swedes drink their coffee black and brew it to be very strong—quite unlike how most foreigners take their coffee. They also typically serve it hot with Kaffeost or “coffee cheese.”

These cheese curds improve the beverage’s taste and give it a tang that is unique to Sweden.

Still, Swedish coffee is also known for its flavorful and aromatic qualities—a testament to the nation’s long and proud history with the beverage.

This article explores Swedish coffee-drinking culture, how pervasive the drink is in an average Swede’s life, and whether most Swedes prefer coffee over tea. It also discusses the age-old Swedish tradition of Fika and how it relates to coffee.

Also, see What Are Swedish Fish? to learn more.

Do Swedes Drink Their Coffee Black? 

One of the most exciting aspects of drinks like coffee is how versatile the beverage is and how well it pairs with almost any dish.

Still, there are several ways to drink coffee—even among Europeans and Scandinavians. 

Despite the versatility of coffee, Swedes are famous for drinking it black—usually preferring to savor the drink’s flavors and aromas without additives.

In fact, most Swedes typically forgo using sweeteners in their coffee.

However, drinking black coffee goes beyond taking it without sugar or other sweeteners. It means drinking coffee without adding milk, cream, or similar additives. [1]

This practice is prevalent among Swedes, mainly because of the richness of Swedish coffee.

There are many ways to make coffee, and Swedish coffee is usually made using the drip brewing method, an ancient and convenient brewing technique that contributes to the drink’s bold flavors and vibrant scents.

It’s difficult to describe precisely what Swedish coffee tastes and smells like, but it owes these exceptional qualities to its strength.

Swedes brew their coffee so strongly that it stays black for as long as it’s in a cup.

It’s slightly more potent than Espresso but has more robust flavors and aromas than most non-Scandinavians are used to experiencing in a cup of coffee.

As mentioned earlier, the secret to Swedish coffee is the drip method of brewing. [2]

To brew coffee using the drip method, put the coffee grounds on top of a filter and pour hot water directly onto the grounds.

Gravity is the mechanism for this brewing process, and the brewed coffee drips into a coffee cup from the filter. 

The brewer must pour the hot water evenly for the best results. 

It’s worth noting that there are many other ways the Swedes take their coffee besides drinking it black.

For example, it’s common to serve coffee with pieces of cheese curds.

This cheese is known as Kaffeost or “coffee cheese” and is a delicacy in Sweden. [3] Kaffeost is a hard yet flexible cheese from Sweden’s polar north, the Swedish Lapland.

It’s a traditional complement to coffee in Sweden and tastes best when it is marinated in a warm cup of the beverage.

Still, this way of drinking coffee is treated more as a meal than a mere drink in Sweden, so it’s more common to see many Swedes consuming their coffee black and strong.

What Is Swedish Fika?

Swedish coffee is so good that it’s become an essential part of Sweden’s culture—a custom known as Fika. But what exactly is Fika, and how does it tie in with Swedish coffee-drinking culture?

Fika is a traditional Swedish practice that involves gathering for food, drink, and conversation.

The custom is geared around improving relations among members of close-knit communities and is still a part of Swedish culture today.

At its core, Fika is a way for Swedes to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially in today’s fast-paced society. It also helps Swedes to be more conscious about their drinking, eating, and socializing habits. [4]

However, Fika is more than just another way for Swedes to enjoy life’s simple pleasures during a busy day—it’s an essential part of Swedish culture and the Swedish coffee-drinking culture. [5]

“Fika” is derived from “kaffi,” an old Swedish Svenska word for coffee. [6] The term originated sometime in the 19th century but describes years of Swedish coffee, food, and community traditions.

At the time the term was coined, and still today, Fika refers to taking a deliberate break from work by having a cup of coffee.

It’s a practice that has contributed immensely to Sweden’s productivity and healthy lifestyle.

However, Fika is more than just an extended break for coffee. It’s a beneficial ritual that helps improve mental health, strengthen communal bonds, and promote mindfulness.

Traditionally, Fika sessions are communal, meaning family members, workers, or even friends are expected to join the practice.

This characteristic means the ritual isn’t limited to public cafes and restaurants but even offices and laboratories.

Still, while strong, black coffee is a staple of Fika in Sweden, it’s not uncommon to see Swedes drinking coffee with some cream or Kaffeost.

However, most Swedes partaking in Fika usually have some Fikabröd alongside their coffee.

Fikabröd is a type of sweet bread from Sweden that’s been a part of Fika rituals for a long time.

How Many Cups of Coffee Do Swedes Drink a Day?

So, Swedes like coffee—a lot. [7] And they prefer to take it black and strong, without any additives, while brewing it in a way that locks in as much flavor and aroma as possible.

But how much do they like coffee, and how many cups do they drink daily?

On average, Swedes drink a little over three cups of coffee daily, a testament to their love of the beverage and its pervasiveness in Swedish culture.

This high consumption is mainly because of Fika, but it is also due to how much Swedes love coffee.

However, this data only tells part of the story of Swedish coffee-drinking culture. Sweden has been ranked among the top 10 countries of people who drink the most coffee per year.

The average Swede consumes around 8.2 kilograms (19 pounds) of coffee yearly. [8]

Still, Sweden isn’t an exceptionally high consumer of coffee compared to other Nordic countries—especially with Finland, Norway, and Iceland topping the coffee-consumption list in 2022.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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