From a coffee-abstainer to a coffee lover
I hated coffee. Yep. You read it right. I hated coffee. I hated the smell. I hated the taste. Be it black coffee or café au lait, I hated coffee. I was very much a Lipton tea person. It was not until I started my training as a part-time barista at Starbucks in 2000 that I started to develop a great appreciation for coffee.
I was wondering what the heck I was thinking being in the roomful of hopeful baristas AND drinking coffee. Well, since I needed money to pay for my school, this would just be a job for me. Well...well...how did that thought turn me around?
One of the training involved us grinding coffee beans and using the Lamazocco. Those were the days when baristas had to learn the art of tamping coffee. Not as easy as it looks! If you tamped too hard, you will produce an extremely bitter espresso. That part of the training was fun as we got to taste the different outcomes from the different tamping pressure.
I still drink my Lipton tea though. I just spend more time with my coffee since.
Far and away...
As a young working adult, I didn't have the privilege to travel much, to be honest. My first maiden flight was to France in 1998 with the L'Hexagone French Club at Nanyang Polytechnic where I graduated with a diploma in nursing. (Ok. It is a long story about how I got here.). That's for another day. Anyways, after 2 years of researching, planning and gathering the courage to travel this far, I finally arrived in Stockholm on May 10th, 2009. The rest is history.
That photo up there? It was a well-captured moment of me seeing snow for the first time. Well, the snow was almost melting away though but I could not resist. I made my bestie stop the car, got out of the car, and ran towards this patch just to touch the snow. Oh! That moment came back to me as I'm typing this. 🥰
After living in Stockholm for slightly over 10 years, fika has become a part of me. Even when I am travelling to Edinburgh or back in Singapore, I have fika every day, any time of the day.
To me, fika is a great excuse to catch up with great friends, loved ones. It is also a time to quieten the busy mind and enjoy the beauty of nature.
And the hunt begins...
I always believe in the saying: "When in Rome, do what the Romans do." I would say: "When in Sweden, do what the Swedes do. And that is to fika!". When I first arrived, I observed the number of local cafés I could find just in Stockholm Central, I was blown away. There were so many of them; I am sure there are more now. Oh! There was no Starbucks in 2009. The first Starbucks store opened one year later at Arlanda Airport, and you can find one at Stockholm Central Station.
Sweden doesn't need Starbucks because Sweden has Espresso House, which in my humble opinion gives Starbucks a run for its money, Costa Coffee, and Wayne's Coffee. I'm not saying that Starbucks is bad, I'm just saying why stick to one familiar store when you have plenty to explore? EH..! It rhymes!
Perhaps this whole idea of Fika has become more than just the social aspects of it; it is the whole experience of drinking coffee, having a cake or a sandwich, the company you are with and the ambience. With that said, in my obsession with fika, I may have turned into a café hunter unintentionally. Hmm..
Well, although I enjoy having Fika alone, having great company makes a difference. Fika taste better with your fika gang!