Food - Drink
The Symbolic Importance Of Coffee To Swedish-American Immigrants
By RYAN CASHMAN
The average Swedish citizen consumes 18 pounds of coffee per year, according to World Population Review, making the country one of the top six coffee-consuming nations in 2016. The Swedish brought their love of coffee to the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries, and were at the forefront of popularizing their favorite beverage.
Swedish-American culture has carried a special respect for coffee since immigrants first arrived in the country. Coffee was once expensive, and rural Swedes supplemented coffee with chicory or additives to stretch their supply, but by 1950, coffee became more affordable, which coincided with upward mobility for Swedish immigrants.
As immigrants spread coffee across rural towns in America, it was simultaneously becoming more accessible across all social classes. Coffee's new affordability and Swedes' upward climb in social and economic status means they could once again enjoy kaffe med dopp (coffee and dunk), or daily cups of coffee with sweets.
Coffee became even more precious to Swedes during their time in America, and the drink has become a symbol of Swedish hospitality. Today, descendants of Swedish immigrants hold a coffee festival called Kaffe Fest in Wilmar, Minnesota, and Swedes all over the world participate in fika, daily coffee breaks that are practically mandatory.