Coffee Shops in Korea & Things You Need to Know about Coffee

Coffee Shops in Korea & Things You Need to Know about Coffee

Café Namusairo

It first opened in 2002 right in front of Seoul National University and later moved here in 2013. They focus on the basics of coffee and use good materials for everything—from raw coffee beans to the handcrafted sauces. They offer customers a rare type of specialty coffee that costs up to 20,000 won a cup as well as blended tea and freshly baked cakes.

Coffee Libre

Coffee Libre, which now has branches in Times Square in Yeongdeungpogu, on Famille Street in Gangnam and near Myeongdong Cathedral, was first opened in Yeonnam-dong. Every Sunday in Yeonnam-dong, customers can taste roasted single origin coffees (of at least seven variations) made with either an aeropress or French press. For basic coffees, they use their own espresso blend, Bad Blood. Every Tuesday at 8pm, they host a free public cupping.

At what temperature is coffee the best?

The best temperature for coffee is different for every culture. Koreans are used to hot foods because of the Korean tang (soup) culture, and they find coffee between 55-60°C to be the best. In Europe, the temperature is lower at around 45-50°C. But actually, the tongue can taste the most when the liquid is closer to our body temperature, at 38-40°C. If it’s too hot, you’re not tasting the coffee, you’re just feeling a sense of pain from the heat. It’s also different for every person, so ask the barista for your favorite temperature. —Kim Sa-hong (Barista at Coffee Temple)

What are the factors of good coffee?

The most important factor is the scent. The scent has to be good. If a coffee loses its scent, all that’s left is bitterness and a bit of a sour taste. It’s the same as a flat coke. Just like you need the carbon to know you’re drinking soda, you need the coffee scent to realize its taste. —Kim Sa-hong

Balance and texture. The variety of flavors have to come together to form a harmonious one. Also, I think that after drinking it, the coffee should leave a clean and fresh feeling, not a stale one. —Yang Jin-ho (El Café CEO)

Many more cafés are offering specialty coffees.

I think the true meaning of specialty coffee is realized only when it finally reaches the consumer and makes them feel special. The quality of coffee can’t be determined simply by the raw bean. Everything from the bean to the roasting to the quality control has to be meticulously taken care of for the customer to truly get a “special” coffee. Of course in the end, the customer has the last word. There is another aspect of specialty coffee. It’s the fact that you can track the coffee’s history and access its sustainability, which are two important values of specialty coffees. To ensure a high-quality coffee industry, the first and foremost aspect to keep in mind is that the farmers’ lives must be sustainable. Excellent coffee beans don’t just come from the right environment but ultimately from the people. Specialty coffee makes sure these people get the proper education they need as well motivation and a sense of fulfillment in their work, which will only bring better coffee to consumers. It’s unfortunate that this aspect of specialty coffee is sometimes overlooked in Korea. —Yang Jin-ho

Nichole Chan


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