The veritable Seoul city, capital of South Korea, is touted for many things. For starters, its thriving scene of entertainment, which has birthed the behemoth force that is K-pop. In the same vein of arts, cool conceptual stores can be found peppered around the city’s charming enclaves, injecting modernity to a place enshrined in tradition. The food will tell you this much, not to mention, the majestic palaces that had once housed royalty.
While assimilating in a foreign city’s culture might prove daunting for some, there is but an easy way to indoctrinate oneself: by ordering an iced Americano. Believe it or not, it’s the unofficial national drink, commonly spotted in hand amongst locals, even endured during Seoul’s wintry season. Coffee is a huge part of the city’s lifestyle; you would know this instantly just by spotting one of their many local cafe franchises like A Twosome Place, Ediya Coffee and Tom and Toms Coffee just a stone throw’s away from one another.
No surprise then that there’s plenty of potential for specialty coffee to bloom in this place. Add to that, the creative entrepreneurial minds, who have dreamt up novel and picturesque cafes in Seoul, to the delight of both locals and foreigners alike. These are the spaces that have been designed to inspire, soothe and for one to linger.
Below, Vogue Singapore presents our shortlist of the best cafes to visit while in Seoul.
1 / 7
What Felt serves up, besides meticulously-sourced coffee, is an alienating sense of space. Often flanked by sleek lines and high ceilings, each of their outposts in Seoul masterfully creates a similar yet discerning aesthetic—with the clever use of colours. Our favourite has to be their branch near Cheonggyecheon, which boasts a theatrical slant.
77 Mugyo-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
2 / 7
Through its doors, Sanok Coffee feels like a warm hug—yes even in the summer. Where light generously pours in and an LP spins by the corner, as you sit by the window enjoying a cuppa and some light bites.
113-85, Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
3 / 7
While the coffee and scenic views of Gwanak District (best peered from an Instagram-worthy circular window) are reasons enough to make a trip to Ongozisin, this industrial cavern’s menu make it worth your while. Highlights include paprika ice cream and monggo (red mung sesame) buns.
1620-32, Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul
4 / 7
Its name translates to traditional Korean medicine pharmacy, which will make complete sense once you actually locate this cafe, carefully wedged between a narrow alleyway. Upon stepping in, an illusion of a time warp occurs, with antique furniture and paraphernalia filling up the two-storey space. With a dedicated focus on hand-drip coffee, aficionados can choose from a selection of their house-roasted blends and single-origins—to be paired with one of their sweet treats.
16-6 Samil-daero 12-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
5 / 7
Cafe Onion in Anguk
Styled in a hanok setting, Cafe Onion in Anguk invites a tranquil sense of calm, despite its heavy foot traffic on the weekends. The greatest pull here is undeniably their assortment of fresh bakes—that range from mentaiko buns to hojicha pastries to delectable pies. On the coffee front, try out the brand’s city exclusive blend ‘Seongsu’.
5, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
6 / 7
Any of Anthracite Coffee’s outlets in Seoul would warrant an unforgettable experience but we love Yeonhee’s edifice for its bookstore segment, with the entire place fitted out like a stylish library. Backed up by consistent coffee credentials, trust that any cuppa here has been procured with the utmost precision and dedication.
135 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
7 / 7
Coffee Nap Roasters
Mention ‘brick hill cafe’ and Coffee Nap Roasters will come up top on the search results. In this humbly-sized shop, the cafe’s clever use of space draws many curious visitors daily—stopping by for a photo and a pick-me-up at the same time.
453-32 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul