Best Specialty Coffee Shops in Hongdae area
Seoul is a coffee haven. Pretty much all Koreans are obsessed with the stuff – you can’t go more than a block without spotting a Starbucks or Ediya Coffee. But for a country with cafés on every corner, it can be surprisingly difficult to find a decent cup of java.
Thankfully, for those tired of settling for your average Americano, Seoul has recently branched out into the ‘third-wave coffee scene’. Forget foams and flavored syrups: the third wave coffee is all about origins, processing methods and artisan roasting. We’ve rounded up five of the best specialty coffee shops-unsurprisingly located around Hongdae, Seoul’s most vibrant and free-spirited neighborhood – where coffee-loving travelers can enjoy everything from Instagrammable latte art to exquisitely brewed espressos.
DUKES COFFEE SHOWROOM
Best Specialty Coffee Shops in Hongdae area
Personalized service by the city’s friendliest baristas
With beans hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, Dukes Coffee Showroom is a place to cherish if you value specialty coffee and artisan beans. Tucked away in a back alley, this bright space is reminiscent of a real showroom. Decked out with shelves of colorfully labelled coffee beans, each type is detailed with its origin, brewing method, and taste. Not sure what to go for? The baristas here are so approachable and friendly, and will happily advise you on what to drink and how to best enjoy it: just pull up a chair at the counter.
Keep in mind that the only sign advertising its whereabouts is a small picture of a paper cup hidden by the entrance. Spot that paper cup, and you’ll know you’ve found the right place.
Get your caffeine boost from this minimalist coffee outpost
The décor of FELT Coffee is clean and to the point, drawing attention to the amazing coffee it has to offer. The shop consists of white painted walls, an espresso machine and grinders on a neat little coffee station, in addition to two speakers that play staff selected vinyl records from an antique record player. And…that’s it. With a couple of wooden benches lined against the wall, this spot is truly a minimalist’s dream.
The pour over brews is citrusy and divine. Though not on the menu, order like the locals and try a flat white or cappuccino. Keep in mind that this little corner spot is nearly undiscoverable to those not in the know. In keeping with the minimalist vibe, the shop owners kept the original sign of the former piano school. Just look for the ‘Eunpa Piano’ academy in an otherwise unmarked old building. Just a short walk from Sogang University Station, this up-and-coming coffee destination is worth seeking out.
MANUFACT COFFEE ROASTERS
A neighborhood shrine to specialty coffee
A local-approved gem nestled away from the hectic main street, Manufact Coffee offers quality coffee at surprisingly reasonable prices. Head up the narrow and steep stairs to find this unpretentious coffee shop on the second floor. Coffee here comes in brewed forms, as well as espresso blends. The flat white is a must try, with its perfect balance of rich and velvety milk. Manufact is also known for its house cold brew made from a unique cold brewing system. This machine is one-of-a-kind: the two brothers running the shop, both with engineering backgrounds, turned their talents towards making the perfect cold brew. Be warned that seating space is limited: the shop is constantly buzzing with locals. Luckily, they’ve opened additional locations in Sinsa-dong and Bangbae-dong. (Pro tip: if you buy a bag of beans, you’ll get a fresh cup of coffee on the house!)
MILLO COFFEE ROASTERS
A classic coffee haven for caffeine junkies
Don’t be fooled by its unassuming white exterior and location near the subway station: Milo Coffee Roasters is anything but your average Hongdae café. Inside, they’ve done their work where it really matters. The interior of Millo feels classic and elegant, with its dark wooden beams and carefully selected art work. Fun fact: the daughter’s of owner painted one of the pieces hung on the wall.
As a micro coffee roastery, their first-rate coffee has naturally placed Millo amongst the most celebrated of the Hongdae’s third-wave coffee scene. Millo’s pour over coffee, with its rich aromatic flavor, is a firm favorite. We also recommend you try their signature drink, the Mont Blanc. The Mont Blanc is an Einspänner coffee composed of a strong, acidic Americano base topped with sweet hand-whipped cream. Each order is served up in the owner’s unique coffee cups from his personal collection. If you’re in the mood for an extra caffeine boost or want to enjoy the ambiance of the jazz music for a bit longer, you can get an additional Americano for just 2,000 won.
Nacho average cup of coffee
Head towards the Dongjin market in Yeonnam-dong, enter a worn-out concrete building, and you’ll find yourself in a cramped room with herbal medicine shelves lining the walls. Once a traditional medicine shop, this space is now home to a cozy little coffee shop named Coffee Libre (yes, inspired by that ‘Nacho Libre’). Capacity at this tiny spot doesn’t even make it into double digits, but that doesn’t stop this shop from buzzing all day with coffee-addicts dropping by to purchase beans or get their daily take-away fix.
With intensely acidic notes, the coffee here is a bit of an acquired taste. But given how popular Coffee Libre has become, (their beans, with its distinctive blue mask logo, has been popping up all over Seoul’s coffee scene) we’d say a cup is definitely worth a shot. Pick up some beans, and you’ll get a free cup of coffee (they also have sweeter beans if you prefer). Worried the Yeonnam-dong branch might be a little cramped? Fear not. They have lager spaces located by Myeong-dong and Central City Gangnam Terminal Bus Stop.