As everyone knows, I’m completely addicted to coffee. I’m totally that girl who walks into Starbucks and gets my coffee handed to me with no order (and sometimes no payment!). And as much as I love quality coffee, which I was recently introduced to (i.e. Intelligensia), I love my Starbucks. It’s home for me.
When I was making my trip to Korea, I knew I’d be paying a LOT more for my coffee since coffee beans are all imported to Korea. A tall iced coffee from Starbucks at home costs me $1.95 while a tall iced coffee from Starbucks in Korea costs me about 3,500 won, approximately $3.50. And sadly the coffee is much weaker and more watered down. I’m a huge fan of bolder coffees.
The great thing, however, about Korea is that abundance of little coffee shops everywhere. While large international chains such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are everywhere, smaller and very cute coffee shops are abundant! I love the ones in Apgujeong especially. In general the vibe of the entire area and the coffee shops are trendy, hip and very cute!
Coffee Page One
Gangnam-gu Shinsa-dong 640-11
When I was walking by this place, I was immediately drawn in. The space is so gorgeous! There are seats out on the patio area, but the entire “front” of the store is open to the street. And because Korea is super hot and humid they have the AC blasting inside. While my small iced Americano ran me 4,000 won (approximately $4) and it was a very mediocre coffee, the entire vibe of the place (and of course free Wi-Fi) made up for it!
Gangnam Shinsegae Food Court
A friend and I went shopping at the Gangnam Shinsegae department store after classes one day, and of course before properly starting off our shopping we needed an iced Americano. While the small iced Americano cost me 3,500 won (approximately $3.50) and it was SUPER watery, at least it did the trick somewhat. On a hot humid day in Korea, iced coffees replace water for me often.
Starbucks is obviously international. So you know what to expect when you walk in. While the coffee is definitely weaker than it is back at home, I would say Starbucks is definitely one of the best coffees here.
Caffe Bene is another chain here in Seoul. My father is obsessed with coffee as much, if not more, than I am. He immediately told me to stick with Starbucks and Caffe Bene, and I can definitely understand why. Caffe Bene’s hot Americano was the best cup of coffee I have had thus far here in Korea. It was much stronger and bolder than the watery coffees I was getting on campus before classes.
I honestly love how drinking coffee here in Korea is more of a social experience rather than simply out of necessity. At home, I’m always at a Starbucks grabbing a cup on the go. But here, I love to sit and enjoy my coffee with my friends. Plus the coffee shops are definitely designed to cater to more of a social atmosphere. Even the big chains – Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Caffe Bene – are all built larger and with more places to sit down. Coffees are served in actual mugs when you drink the coffee there, and the foods are served on plates, taken out of the packaging. But of course, I’m still definitely that girl running out the door with my Americano in hand, just like in LA.