Coffee wasn’t widely consumed in Korea until the 1980s, but what the Koreans lack in history they have made up for with passion and efficiency. There are cafes EVERYWHERE. South Korea is lousy with cafes. There is a bit of a francophile bent to their cafe scene- open air is preferred to the more American, indoor “coffee shop” and it’s legal to smoke in certain sections. Hipster-ish teenage girls in goth-y makeup, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee is a common site.
South Koreans are also extremely efficient with their interior design (see My House) so many of these coffee shops have dual purposes. One of the more peculiar examples is Kaare Klint, in Yeongtong. It’s a coffee shop and a designer furniture store.
There’s also this gorgeous cafe located outside of the Hangik University subway stop #3 (in Seoul), which doubles as a bookstore. It was enormous, and so incredibly beautiful inside. And the coffee was good. Whatever, look at all the books!!
There are also creative uses of space, like The Roastery in Yeongtong. There are cubbies, benches, a lofted area… so many options.
And then there’s my favorite cafe in my neighborhood- Dan Coffee.
It’s conveniently located about five feet from my apartment, they make excellent coffee, and they seem ambivalent to my nearly constant presence. Or nearly ambivalent to my constant presence. Either way, they haven’t kicked me out yet.
I was warned, before moving here, that I wouldn’t be able to find a good espresso or even a good cup of coffee anywhere. I have fortunately discovered just the opposite!