Fika is a fast paced, Euro-inspired, production/output focused cafe that adequately reflects the “NY minute” attitude of the surrounding Financial District. Utilizing a Swedish motif, the cafe itself is visually impressive and “modern,” maybe even borderline showy. Overall, while I found the space appealing, it was a bit cold and sterile. The upscale cafe is much more than just a coffee bar, Fika also offers a full food menu with pastry/dessert selections, which I was unable to try. Unfortunately, because of this potential division of resources/labor and focus on two separate enterprises , I feel the coffee bar side of Fika suffers; despite having a Synesso and roasting their own beans, the quality of their coffee in terms of taste was average at best. This, in my opinion, indicated that the coffee side of the business was somewhat neglected, making the name Fika “espresso bar” a bit ironic.
Rather than an intimate, craft driven venture, Fika is relies on a “production line” model, focusing on speed and efficiency rather than precision. Given the volume of costumers during the early afternoon, this makes complete sense. Not all stores can, or should be required to, follow an “artisan” model for high end coffee. It just is not pragmatic for some stores/locations. On the other hand, such a model unavoidably comes at the cost of quality in a few ways.
Fika does their own roasting and utilizes a Synesso Hydra, two touch points that inherently suggest high quality. However, the beans, the cornerstone of any store, were sub par. It makes me sad to see a store with such functional potential fail to live up to said capacity because they miss the most fundamental element to the whole process: a quality bean! In a way, this experience confirmed some of my anxieties about new shops blindly following artisan coffee trends; good equipment and in-house/company roasting doesn’t automatically guarantee success, but they can be a business savvy facade.
I opted for coffee rather than a cap on this trip. The flavor was hearty, heavy, and bitter but not unpleasant. The beans were certainly more on the “roast flavor” side of the spectrum as opposed to origin flavor. While I did not sample a cap, I did watch the baristas and the drinks going out on the bar. After seeing some lack-luster art and sloppy tamping, I was glad I ordered coffee. Poor Synesso machine; it was a bit like watching a sports car driving under the speed limit. With good training and a little practice, I am sure that the Fika staff can learn to utilize the full potential of their machine.
Overall, while no judgement can be made upon the quality of the eatery, despite their own roasting and excellent equipment, Fika did not live up to its image as a specialty shop.