Nothing beats taking a short break at work to recharge the batteries, often whilst sipping a delicious cup of hot coffee.


We love our coffee in New Zealand, but we aren’t the only country in the world to take our rituals seriously. Whether it’s the first essential cup in the morning or the last one of the day, there are cultures around the world who have taken drinking coffee to the next level. Which custom will you introduce to your office?


“The Swedish”


The Swedes are right up there in terms of drinking coffee, being the second highest daily drinkers on the planet. They sweeten their coffee drinking with the idea of ‘fika’. Fika describes the habit of taking their coffee with a small cake, typically a delicious cinnamon bun. But Fika is more than a description of a quick break. It is synonymous with the whole Swedish way of life! There are even books dedicated to the tradition.



It encompasses slowing down, taking time to enjoy simple pleasures, and relaxing with your colleagues. What is particularly special about this practice is that it is designed specifically around the workplace. Fika describes the moments in the day that you most look forward to; sitting down and chatting with those around you. Perhaps it is the secret to why the Swedish are some of the most chilled out employees in the world.


“The Spanish”


Merienda is a Spanish custom which has spread to all Spanish speaking cultures. It roughly translates as a light meal or snack but has evolved to mean either a mid-morning or afternoon coffee break, usually accompanied by a delicious sweet treat. It is often called Spain’s fourth meal, and like the Swedish fika, time-out is at the heart of the custom.



Enjoying taking a moment to stop and smell the coffee is positively mandatory! A typical Spanish brew would be Café con Leche, a small but strong version of a double shot flat white. Paired with churros this makes a tasty way to take a break.


“The Ethiopian”


Ethiopia is known as the birth place of coffee, so unsurprisingly the Ethiopian coffee break really does take the cake for seriousness and complexity! One to avoid at work, the ceremony can take several hours and uses traditional methods and equipment.


It begins with slowly roasting the beans to produce a beautiful aroma. The beans are ground while still warm using a pestle and mortar and then finely sieved several times. The coffee is brewed in a special coffee pot called a jebena, and is poured carefully into tiny decorated cups from a great height, which is an art in itself.


Photo credit: jebenacafe.com

The coffee is taken with plentiful amounts of sugar, or even salt in some regions, but never milk. The hot beverage is often enjoyed with small snacks like cooked barley or popcorn, but the reason for the ceremony is much more than simple nourishment.


The whole ritual is special and is used to welcome visitors and honoured guests. Once the coffee is poured, the conversation and chat begins to flow. There is a saying in Ethiopia: “”Buna dabo naw” which means that coffee is the stuff of life. Given the coffee ritual involves drinking at least three cups before you can politely leave, you can understand why!


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