South Korea in the Perspective of a Filipino Expatriate

Saturday, November 26, 2016

10 Trendy Cafes in Seoul You Should Visit (Part 1)

When I arrived in Korea roughly 4 years ago, I was oblivious to the fact that coffee shops exist almost everywhere in this country. As time goes by, as I explored so many places of Korea, I realized how Koreans love coffee. I had once a conversation with a random Korean guy and we talked about the coffee culture of Korea, and he said that the number of coffee shops in this country show how much Koreans value coffee, in fact, most of his friends even prefer to drink coffee than to eat a full meal. If it’s true, then it must be crazy.

I would like to believe that I am exaggerating, but you walk at random streets in any cities of Korea and you will find a coffee shop in every corner. In Seoul alone, there are hundreds, or maybe thousands of coffee shops exist. I personally categorized these coffee shops into mainstreams, themed and trendy. Mainstream cafes are the ones with known names like Starbucks, TomNToms, Angel in Us, Twosome and more. Themed cafes are coffee shops with, well, themes. I’ve been to Camera Café in yangpyeong, I also tried Bau House dog café. I know there’s cat café in Myeongdong, there’s even Hello Kitty Café, Sheep café, Raccoon Café and a lot more. Then there comes the Trendy cafes, the one I like most. Forget about the mainstreams, forget about the themed, because for me, real coffee lovers go to trendy coffee shops.

Trendy cafes are nice because you can see an aspect of personality in the coffee shop. These cafes offer not only a quick relief for the thirsty, or a treat for the sweet tooth, or a quick fix for the caffeine addicts but a different kind of ambiance unique to the characteristic of the shop. That is why in this review, I will focus more on the ambiance than the coffee and food aspect.

I was able to visit 10 trendy coffee shops in 2 days in Seoul as part of the Café Show event at COEX. They offered a free tour bus to bring people to different spots in Seoul for coffee shop visit. They provided a map and a list of coffee shops to visit in downtown area. The tour bus only brought us to the destination, and we have to locate the coffee shops on our own. The google map was a great help for us to navigate to the destination of the coffee shops we chose to visit.

Without further adieu, here are the top 10 trendy cafes in Seoul you should visit if you are in the area.

1. Anthracite Coffee Roasters

Tagline: Small Steps to Big Change



From the outside, it looks bland, rusty, old and uninteresting. But when you get inside the coffee shop, there’s a welcoming feeling that magnetize people to get inside, have a cup of coffee and relax. The moment I opened that heavy, rusty sliding metal door, I smelled roasted coffee. Their bakery offers interesting set of cakes for the sweet tooth. I like the carrot cake, it tastes just the way I like it.



Anthracite for me is like a time machine, once you entered, you will be taken back into the past. I like the transparency though. You can see everything inside the café, from the roasting process of the beans to the way the barista prepare your coffee. You can sit in front of the counter and patiently wait for your orders while watching the staffs make your coffee. Nothing fancy about the tables, the chairs, the interior design and everything inside the coffee shop because they’re all old and recycled but interesting and beautiful. They serve their coffee as fresh as possible as it is being roasted right within the coffee shop using the big old roaster which you can see while sipping your hot coffee. The second floor of the building looks like a very old building and the owner didn’t mind to renovate it because in all fairness, it looks unique and interesting the way it is. The thatched roof, the broken cinderblock walls and the whole old school ambiance add to the whole coffee shop experience.



To go to Anthracite Coffee Roaster, you can get off at Sangsu Station which is in line number 6 (Brown Line),  go to exit 4, once you exit, continue to walk until you reach 7 Eleven convenience store, from there, turn left and walk down the road. When you reached the corner of the road, turn right and walk about 15 meters. You can also use Google Map to Navigate to the location of the coffee shop using this address:

Tojeong-ro 5-gil, Hapjeong-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 마포구 토정로5길 10


2. Bean Brothers

Tag Line: Your Personal Coffee Guide



Bean Brothers is another interesting coffee shop in the area. From the outside, you will know that the feel would be Industrial. It’s plain, rusty and what else can you expect from an old garage converted into coffee shop.



The interior design is so cool though. It is a place where you would want to bring tons of your friends to drink coffee or tea. The barista are all accommodating, the counter is strategically located in the middle of the room so people from any side of the shop can see the baristas taking orders, preparing the drinks and even the roasting area has transparent glass for people to see. I also like how they put quotes or words of wisdom or whatever you call it all over the café.



They serve hot coffee, freshly roasted right within the premise, some non coffee beverages and freshly baked goods for the coffee goers to enjoy while talking.

Bean Brothers is located very near Anthracite Coffee Roaster. The nearest stations are Hapjeong Station or Sangsu Station.  Use your google map to navigate to this address:
35-1, Tojeong-ro, Mapo-gu , Seoul 121-897


3. Café I Do

Tag Line: Italian Coffee and a Dessert, A Perfect Couple


If romantic place is your thing, then Café I Do is definitely the place you should visit. The big red gate is a head turner when you walk along the street where it is located, so it is impossible you would not notice it despite the fact that it is squeezed in between offices and some regular buildings.



After entering the red gate, a different kind of feel welcomes you. If the red gate and the name of the shop imply a romantic feel, the wooden element of its porch would definitely remind you of a home in a province. When we entered the shop, the interior design, the tables, the chairs and everything inside gave a cozy feeling of home. This is a perfect place if you want some small talk with a friend.




To go to Café I Do, the nearest station is Exit 6 of Hapjeong Station. Use your Google Map to navigate on this address:

 1F, 410-10, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

4. Five Brewing

Tagline: The Very First Brewing Coffee Shop in Korea



From the outside, it gives a youthful vibe. It looks like a coffee shop where students or young people would love to go.



Just don’t mistake this coffee shop as a library though because there are a lot of books inside. The wood element is so strong in this café, making it appears minimalist, but with all those displays and decorations, you can’t deny the artistry of the interior design.



The coffee roaster is sitting happily right in the counter area where everybody could see. It is indeed a perfect place for an afternoon coffee delight.

5Brewing is just near Exit 6 of Hapjeong Station. Use your Google Map to navigate on this address:

55-12 Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul

5. Belief Coffee Roasters

Tagline: Specialty Coffee to Please Your 5 Senses




Right in the corner of the street near Hapjeong Station, there stands a spacious coffee shop where you can study, talk and just sip a cup of coffee. With accommodating baristas and staffs, Belief Coffee Roasters is a place where you can get a much needed welcoming feeling.



As what they promised, their coffee is not only for the tongue but for all the 5 senses of the body. Their bakery is something you should try too, the macarons are selling like hot cakes.



To go to Belief Coffee Roasters, use your Google Map to Navigate to this address:

50, Yanghwa-ro 11 gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

I will feature the last 5 trendy coffee shops I visited in Seoul in the part 2 of this post.

CLICK HERE for part 2

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