Korea's Caffeine Driven Culture

Authored by:
Noelle K.

Noelle K.

An essential and unique feature of Seoul is the endless selection of charming, exquisite cafés. In fact, Seoul appears to have a culture that runs on caffeine. The widespread availability of delicious coffee is a distinct marker of this city. Moreover, coffee ranges from all different prices here, making it affordable to enjoy a drink even on a budget. The choices of cafés vary from trendy, artistic themes to minimalistic designs to classic Korean chains. For whatever mood you are in, there is a café to match your energy and desired experience. Unlike other cities, the cafes in Seoul are simply on a different level with unmatched all-around quality of coffee and pastries.

Part of the reason for such an abundance of cafes in Seoul is the lack of physical and geographical space required for other kinds of activities. Additionally, with the population having a high number of young working adults and students, cafes accommodate both the need for study and social spaces.

If you are unsure where to get good coffee in Seoul, there are several tips to consider. First, if you are looking for a cheaper option, you can stop by chains like “The Venti” or “Compose Coffee” that specialize in takeout coffee that usually only costs around 1,500-2,000 KRW per cup. For more niche, aesthetic cafes you are going to have to do a bit more research. In my experience there are usually hidden neighborhoods that tend to have many unique cafes concentrated in an area. Yeonnam is a location I recently discovered with a plethora of lovely cafes and bakeries. Lastly, for studying your best bet would be to go to a one of the many large Korean coffee chains. “Holly’s Coffee” or “Ediya Coffee” are good options that most people tend to go to mainly to work.

For noncoffee drinkers, most cafés offer a non-coffee menu so there are plenty of options you can also enjoy. As for nondairy milk drinkers, while nondairy isn’t as popular in Korea compared to other countries, more cafes are starting to add nondairy options. So, don’t be afraid to ask your barista if they have a nondairy option!

The older I get the more I realize how enjoyable going to a café is. I personally find the ambiance of a café to be ideal for studying or relaxing. The light chatter, aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and warm lighting create the perfect, calm atmosphere to be productive. Having lived in Seoul for several months now, I can say I have been fully converted to café culture and am continuously impressed by each new café I visit.

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