BY YUNA CHONG
I was literally introduced to the world of coffee outside Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Dunkin Donuts, and McDonalds in this quaint little coffee shop on one of Apgujeong’s many small streets. Shame, that Coffee-Intro isn’t exposed to the wider public…but then again, the thought of big money polluting this and other coffee boutiques in Seoul makes me shudder. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you may not think much of this experience. But everyone has their first time, and this was mine.
Upon entering, I decided I liked the place already; the interior was charming, the atmosphere cozy, the aroma of coffee brimming in the air…little did I know, that there were other ways to judge a coffee shop than by its cover, I was equally as clueless when I picked up the menu. Kenya AA? Guatemala Antigua SHB? Colombia Excelso? I had a vague idea that these names had to do with the coffee bean, but what was the difference, anyway? I settled for the hand drip Ethiopian Yirgacheffe blend, following a coworker’s recommendation. We were on our daily coffee break, the half an hour after lunch to digest and relax before returning to our isolated cubicles.
When our drinks arrived, I wondered why we had come here out of all places to spend on these dinky paper cups of some “hand drip” coffee. Starbucks was down the street, and I’m sure it was cheaper for once! Boy, was I about to get a mouthful. After the first sip, I took back every thought. I always loved the taste of unadulterated, black coffee – but this, this was something new. I swished the new flavor around the entirety of my mouth as I would wine, a flavor subtle enough to still be what it was, but strong enough to catch me completely off-guard. I inquired about the name immediately, feeling an urgent need to write it down. My coworkers laughed. I guess to them, this was nothing new.
I’m very grateful for the coffee drinking culture here. The activity of sitting down over a cup of coffee is a revitalizing break in the middle of each work day, a reason to meet up with old friends, a perfect extension of good dinner conversation, and now, an opportunity to develop a refined taste for the actual drink itself. It seems Seoul has a coffee shop on every corner, but I’ve started to take note of the smaller-scale boutiques advertising hand drip coffee or top-notch espresso. I hate to be cliché, but at least in the case of coffee, I’m excited to confirm again and again that quality kicks quantity’s butt.
Address: 1/F Sung-Ho Building, Shinsa-Dong 596-13, Kangnam-Ku, Seoul