Seoul: It Sure Does Have Cafes

A week in Seoul is sadly over! First I will say, Seoul is kind of the best. I saw a nice temple, a modern art museum, a couple parks, biked along the river, ate weird fish, and all that. The modern art museum had a big room full of strings hanging straight down from the ceiling which you could walk through. It was like a sea of strings. At Noryangjin fish market, one of the weird fishes (an octopus) was still twitching and crawling when we ate it. I also shopped, which seems to be the thing to do everywhere. No, I take it back, that’s the #2 thing to do everywhere; the #1 thing is to hang out in cafes. I like doing that.

I will spend this paragraph justifying how and why I went to so many cafes, then I will talk about all the cafes. At first I thought, I should be sightseeing more. Then I thought, nah, I have like 3 days, and it’s semi-vacation, I am going to do whatever I want, and what I want is mostly to hang around in cafes and read books. To be fair, hanging around in cafes doesn’t stop you from doing anything else. It’s pretty quick. And I saw at least as neat a slice of Seoul as you did.

Here are some of those cafes. (if you’re not interested, you can just see all my photos here.)

DK1744, Hongdae: nothing super special, but the first place I got to off the train. They specialize in “Dutch” coffee, which AFAICT is just cold brew. Which means, if they ask you “hot or cold?” the answer is “cold”, because “hot” just involves a microwave.

5 Extracts, Hongdae: super nice! Run by Choi Hyun Sun, 2011 Korean national champion barista, and I can’t remember wonderful things about the siphon coffee (just very good, not national-champion level), but the space was inviting. I met the guy, a very nice fellow too. I mean, this is kind of like if you went to a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and it was mostly empty and he was just cooking your food and chatting. (but less swearing.)

Bau House, Hongdae: this is a dog cafe. In exchange for you buying an overpriced drink, you get to pet all the puppies! There are like 15 of them. Two corgis even!

Out of Africa, Samcheong-dong: Most places that advertise different drip coffees from different countries do a pretty good job. This one is an exception; I was told no drip coffee, and I ended up with a push-button-machine americano. But the garden was nice.

Coffee Factory, Samcheong-dong: oh, this is the place around Samcheong-dong that I was looking for. 4 floors of coffeeshop, beans that you can tell they’ll be good by the smell. I’d be back here often. Forgot a picture, I guess.

Coffee Monster, Samseong: uh, yes. I mean, the coffee is fine, but I love this decor. “This is because origin of coffee was from another planet and delivered by aliens.”

Ikovox Coffee (formerly Coffee Kitchen, I think), Garosu-gil: yes excellent yay. Mini chain; they also had a branch in the Coex conference center. Amazing coffee in the conference center! How lucky! Get the Brazil, it’s wonderfully dark chocolate and just a touch smoky.

(by the way, LEC coffee is no longer in Garosu-gil, as of 2015.)

Novac Juice, Garosu-gil. With the cactuses. Not technically a coffee shop, but it was beautiful.

221B, Samseong: Sherlock themed, but not good. Like, both things Beka and I got were undrinkably sweet, and it was uncomfortably silent and empty. Not recommended.

Coffee Libre: Best of the best. This was a little kiosk inside a big cathedral building (but like a new cathedral, not an old pretty one), and it still made the most memorable coffee of the trip: almondy and cantaloupe, a little fuller body than I’m used to… oh, and he made it on Aeropress. Huh! Maybe I *am* missing something about Aeropress. (note that this is one of ~4 locations, the others are bigger and probably nicer.)

Hakrim Coffee, Daehangno: super cool. Old fashioned, classical music and old photos. Coffee’s ok, but great atmosphere.

Analog Coffee, aka Samseong Coffee Bokkneunjib (roaster), Samseong: speaking of great old-fashioned atmosphere, this place is awesome. Old records on the walls, and also great beans from all over the world. Plus, the lady is so friendly that, when I accidentally almost left without paying, she apologized to me and gave me a free pie. My friends were convinced that she was hitting on me.

Terarosa Coffee, at Coex: the second best coffee spot in the Coex center. Wah! We are spoiled for choice. Nice spacious place too, and they sell a bunch of coffee gear. Sprung for one of their COE offerings, which was super worth it.

Not pictured: Sedona Coffee, the *third* best place at Coex.

May Island, Gangnam station area: coffeeshop (meh) and library! It was *the most pleasant* place to sit quietly and work. Full of books. Nicely lit, good desks. What you can do: person1cup, wifi, book, no talk. What you can not do: external food, no out, mobile, skinship.

Coffee Gallery, Gangnam station area: well, also nice, but at this point nothing to write home about. Casual shop, decent beans.

And that is (mostly) all the coffee I drank in Seoul! I surely could have kept going. I quite enjoyed this.

Oh ok here are the rest of my pictures that tell the rest of the story, those are probably more interesting to you anyway.


Abel Tasman -

Fascinating review of coffee shops, and a unique way to see the city. I have no doubt this was much more memorable to you than the double decker bus tour. I hope you gave the Corgis green beens and fit & trim. As for almost leaving without paying, I would have plucked you by the beard.
Thank you.

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