I do love a good cup of coffee. I can appreciate the flavor, the roast, the aroma, the warmth, and the strength of the brew. I love how it wakes me up, fills me with energy, and sets the tone for the day. I've drunk many different kinds of coffee in many different places over the past 25 years, but Korea is probably home to some of the prettiest coffee I have ever drunk.
In Korea, coffee is not just the juice that runs in the veins of businessmen, busy moms, and studying adolescents; it is also an art form. Sure, it's easy and quick to grab a 300 won cup from the vending machine, but that doesn't allow you to experience all of the feelings I expressed above. Instead, it's far more rewarding to sit down and enjoy a masterpiece (as shown in the picture above). Every coffee shop (and there are thousands alone in Gwangju) has a trademark to their coffee preparation. Whether they draw a simple happy face, heart, or flower with syrup on top, or if they take the time to sculpt whipped cream designs, the baristas take pride in every cup they make for every customer. One coffee shop I frequent knows me so well now that my most favorite barista writes my name in Korean on top of my coffee. It's little gestures like that that remind me many people do recognize and remember the impact foreigners have here.
So stop and smell the coffee, then sit and have a cup! Guaranteed there's a beautiful surprise awaiting you there.
P. S. The coffee in the picture is the green mint mocha from Tom & Tom's, a recent addition to Megabox Cinema in downtown Gwangju. Next time you're headed to the movies, stop by and check them out! They have a good coffee and tea menu, along with soft pretzels, bread, and cake.