For centuries, tea ruled in Seoul. Not anymore! Coffee has awakened the people in this giant metropolis in South Korea and it looks like there is no turning back.
Coffee shops, including Starbucks, are everywhere in Seoul. There are 284 Starbucks cafes in Seoul, making it the city with the most Starbucks in the world, according to a QZ.com report dated May 27, 2014. New York City has 277 and Shanghai has 256.
Koreans would rather drink coffee and eat dessert than drink tea and eat rice cakes. Thanks to its innovative entrepreneurs and coffee connoisseurs, Seoul’s coffee shops come in many shapes, sizes and themes.
We visited one coffee shop in Insa-dong where wood chips covered the floor. The whole shop was decorated with hanging plants and potted plants.
The plant and wood decor made going to this coffee shop feel a bit strange. The coffee was just so-so compared to the coffee in many other coffee shops we visited while in Seoul.
Here are 5 coffee shops where we had more than one cup of coffee:
1. Caffe Pascucci at Incheon Airport
Caffee Pascucci is an Italian chain coffee shop. There are over 300 outlets throughout Seoul. It was our first stop upon arrival in the Incheon International Airport. There is a variety of coffee in the menu on the board. The shop is set up just like a Starbucks. The only difference that is you can order gelato and specialty coffee like latte macchiato and affogato.
The Americano with a muffin was decent. It was a great way to start the morning in Seoul.
2. Sicily Cafe in Myeong-dong
Sicily Cafe is located on the second floor of a busy shopping street in Myeong-dong. The coffee shop had plenty of sofa seats set up like in a living room. It served waffles all day and is known for its desserts. The espresso was served in a beautiful ceramic cup with a glass of water and saucer placed on a wooden tray. The iced coffee topped with caramel was not overwhelmingly sweet.
3. Hollys Coffee
There are over 100 Hollys Coffee in Seoul. This Korean-based specialty coffee company is committed to training top-class baristas at its own school, known as the Hollys Coffee Academy. Americano was our choice at Hollys Coffee since we were comparing their Americano with several other coffee chains in Seoul including Caffe Pascucci. In this case, Caffe Pascucci won.
4. Tom N Toms
Tom N Toms is another coffee shop franchise in Seoul. It offers a membership card just like Starbucks. Tom N Toms has over 400 stores throughout Korea. You can find one in Los Angeles and Dubai too. This coffee shop is upbeat featuring Korean music in the background. One thing to try is the Korean bread with coffee. You can add whipped cream to the Korean bread too.
For comparison, we chose the Americano in three of the coffee chain shops we visited – Caffe Pascucci, Hollys Coffee and Tom N Toms. The best Americano was from Tom N Toms.
5. Cafe Factoreal
Cafe Factoreal is located adjacent to Wons Ville Myeong-dong Hotel. It serves buffet breakfast from 7 to 9 am. Regular coffee and dessert starts at 10 am. The cafe is cozy and quiet, making it the best place for meetings. We stayed at Wons Ville Myeong-dong Hotel and had drip brew coffee every morning.
Seoul has a coffee shop in almost every street corner. All we did was walk into the ones closest to us while visiting the city. There was no list to check while we were there. If you’re looking for a list of unique coffee shops, check out Visit Korea’s list of coolest cafes in Seoul.
Have you been to Seoul? Which was your favorite coffee shop? Please share, thanks!