Americano, Cafe Mocha, Cafe Latte, Cappuccino, the various types of coffee people drink to prep up their day. Is there any difference to the coffee people around the world drink compared to the coffee available in Korea? Are there any special flavours only available in the country of South Korea? We were at it again in Korea this time with “KAvenyou Winter Free & Easy”, and will share more about the café culture in Seoul.
As we spent the beginning of 2012 under the coldest winter conditions in Seoul, we interestingly find ourselves in a café joint almost every day. Why? Simply because we need shelter from the cold, and obviously “leeching” on the free wireless internet available to give you LIVE updates.
The various types of coffee available were fairly similar in each café from the most basic of Americano to your favourite Mocha drinks, which are also available almost anywhere across the globe. However, there are also interesting flavours such as Goguma 고구마Latte (Sweet Potato Latte) and Omija 오미자 (5 Flavour Berry) Latte. The coffees in general available in Korea are not as strong as what you get in the S.E.A region, and you can hardly taste the coffee for those flavoured lattes. Base on observations, the most common drinks are Americano 아메리카노 and Iced Americano, which is basically black coffee. If you are a coffee drinker, you should give it a go and tell us what you think of it, as compared to what is available in your country.
Cafés are springing up in various locations around Korea, not only consisting of the powerhouses of Starbucks and Coffee Bean, but also the popular “Tom N Toms”, “Ediya Coffee”, “Hollys Coffee”, “Café Béne” and cafés with unique themes like the Hello Kitty Café & Charlie Brown Café. It is also not difficult to see smaller roadside establishments to provide you with a hot drink in keeping you warm. Lastly another café worth mentioning that we managed to find but not enter as it was closed was “Handel & Gretel”, operated by the parents of Super Junior’s Yesung.
For those who are curious about Yesung’s family cafe Handel and Gretel, it is just located along a stretch of shops consisting of cafes and restaurants across KBS. If you are at the famous steps at the main entrance of KBS, continue walking along that path and you will see many shops at the road junction. A simple google, will yield you many instructions on how to get there for sure.
Coffee prices range from the mere KRW3000 for a cup of Americano from a small roadside establishment to KRW9000 for a cup of coffee at a café joint. Most if not all the café joints have designated areas for smoking customers, separated by a sliding door, in a bid to keep the smoke from reaching the non-smoking customers. Wireless internet (Wifi) can also be found at almost all the café joints we visited, which was especially helpful for us, since we could access the internet to find our way around and also to tweet on our adventures in Korea.
For the brave souls who would like to travel to Korea free and easy but do not speak a single ounce of Korea and would like to buy some coffee, fret not. Menus in the café joints are in English and Korean languages, but do take note that most of the staff does not speak fluent English. When placing your orders, do it slowly so that the staff would be able to give you what you want.
For the lucky people living in Singapore, there is a Tom n Toms Coffee shop available in Singapore, located at ICON Village. Be sure to try that out, although we cannot guarantee that the taste and style of the coffee would be similar to those in Korea.
As a whole, the café culture is a thriving yet saturated business in Korea, with more and more cafés springing up, with each bringing their own specialties and distinct style of coffee and ambience to the customers. If you do visit Korea one day, be sure to try the various unique flavours, since it would not be readily available in your home countries.
Article by: Melvyn @ KAvenyou
Photography & Editing: James @ KAvenyou