You could say coffee is what powers Koreans. It helps them stay awake during marathon studying or Warcraft sessions. It covers those who drank a little too heartily the previous night. You'll see businessmen and salespeople standing around, enjoying their 500 won cups and shooting the breeze on a slow day.
The 500 won cup of coffee is good for a jolt of pure sugar, but if you want something with a little more panache, then head to the nearest coffee shop and partake in something a little more well-rounded.
There are many coffee shops in Korea, both chain and local shops. I like to frequent both kinds, but I am partial to one chain in particular. Tom and Tom's is a newer chain that is fast-expanding, including in Gwangju. I favor it because of its good selection of coffees and teas, as well as its edibles. It makes really delicious soft pretzels from scratch in a variety of flavors.
Coffee is more than just a pick-me-up. A good cup of coffee is perfect for a quiet reflective moment. It's a great background for a conversation between friends, or more-than-friends.
Coffee in Korea, like I've mentioned before, is an art form. Baristas take pride in their brews, and serve them up with their own individual touches that make you go "aww" or "wow." That is, if you take time to look at the cup before you drink it! Last weekend I went to a different kind of coffee shop with Van, located in the Chundaehumoon area. It's called Princess Cafe, and the interior reminds me of being in a harem--every group gets their own table surrounded by gold curtains and fringe curtains. As a result, you feel like you're in your own private room to drink whatever you choose. They have coffee there, as well as shakes, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages. I got the mocha milkshake, which was delicious and reminded me of the diner milkshakes back home.
|The pretty lampshade at our table.|
|The curtains that surrounded every table.|
|Mocha milkshake, with frosted flakes|