Seoul’s coffee culture: disrupting the daily grind

Earlier this month I visited South Korea’s capital of cool, Seoul for an inspirational research trip and I was left overwhelmed by the staggering number and different types of café’s packed into every street. For me, a coffee enthusiast this was a dream come true.

Whether it was a multi-storey behemoth 24-hour vendor or street corner independent, the common thread was that unlike most of the rest of the world, Koreans don’t guzzle the “black gold” to ignite the day.

In fact, the majority of the cafés in Seoul don’t actually open until late morning or even early afternoon and don’t shut up shop until late into the evening. Of course there’s still the option of getting your coffee to go – but most elect to sit in, taking time out to slow down and truly enjoy the experience.

Here the social aspect of coffee consumption is key, savouring both the brew and your company. Below we’ve called out 3 of the top places to do just that:

Alegria Coffee Roasters

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Located in what is touted to be the “world’s biggest pop-up shopping mall” Alegria Coffee Roasters is part of a network of shipping containers housing trending brands and companies.

Meticulous in preparation and very rightly proud of their extensive menu (including some specialty drinks that you won’t find anywhere else) These guys are certain to lure you in with their passion, knowledge and the tempting toasted aroma.


Coffee Libre


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Coffee Libre’s founder, Mr. Seo, proudly tells how he travelled the globe in order to directly purchase specialty grade beans for his stores. This place is one for the connoisseurs, Seo believes in simple things done well the menu is reflective of this – espresso, americano, latte, and single-origin brewed coffee are the only things you’ll find on offer. Also worth noting is that every Tuesday at 8 pm, a free coffee cupping program is held (in Korean) to taste specialty coffee and learn about various coffee techniques.


Collection Café

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As important as the coffee at Collection Café, is the music. Walking into this 3 storey gangnam-gu location you notice the walls lined with a vast collection of LPs and other assorted musical paraphernalia. On weekends, DJs play until 3’o clock in the morning whilst baristas prepare elaborate coffee and cocktails. The second floor plays host to a gallery space and hidden away downstairs is a secret basement bar for those in fancying something a little more than coffee ( aka cocktails).

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