I seriously went back and forth and agonized whether making a series was a good idea or not. Do people really care about cafes? Over time I’ve realized it’s quite interesting to visit different coffee establishments. Not because of the coffee alone, but because of the overall attraction to it as a whole. Also, for some odd reason, I take a very unnecessary amount of photos at cafes for no reason at all. What else would I do with these photos besides let them sit and just take up storage space in my hard drive. The criteria in this series will be as follows though; is the interior interesting? Is the coffee among other beverages and food worth its price? How is the service, and what kind of clientele does it attract? In addition to that different cultures offer different customs, and that is always intriguing. So here is the first to a new series I am trying out. We’ll see how it works out.
Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea
While in Korea, I stayed in Mapo Gu, which is maybe a 10 minute walk from Hongdae’s shopping street. The very first time I visited the country, I stumbled upon this little gem located in a heavily populated area. The location was convenient, and it was always open late so I could get work done. In addition to that it also had two floors and of course wifi. There is a generous amount of seating, and open patio seating that had a glass roof during the winter, and was open air in the spring and summer. The entire cafe is dressed in floral arrangements. The tables, entrance, and patio resembles a garden in a greenhouse. After visiting a couple times, I also realized you can purchase their floral arrangements, and bouquets. Personally, I wouldn’t spend money on that considering it’s a cafe and overwhelmingly obvious date spot, meaning the prices are extremely inflated. In turn though, if you are taking your significant other and forgot to buy them a present, it is kind of the perfect setting to do so. You may even earn extra brownie points from your boyfriend/girlfriend? 😉 If you are over the lovey dovey setting though, and know me personally… I am also a sucker for Miyazaki and every time I have visited in the evening they are projecting some type of Studio Ghibli production on one of the walls. I truly live for that. So even if the products they sold were shit, I would still probably visit, and work there because of the aesthetic and good vibes the cafe projects.
In all honesty, Colline’s caters to a very “couple” oriented demographic. People will linger for hours, and to be honest, as someone who travels alone frequently I happen to visit these places by myself pretty often which is where I become a common interest to everyone, from the attendees to the employees. The food majority of the time will come with two forks, and the drinks could quench thirsts of 2+. If you visit by yourself, prepare yourself for the stares and the sympathetic looks of sadness. It is actually quite comedic if one really thinks about it, and the stares kind of dissipate into the background as you begin to work. To bring you up to speed as to why the people stare… the obvious answer is the culture. In Korea, and majority of Asia most public establishments especially cafes and eateries cater to groups. When people visit them they enjoy socialization with each other. I can imagine it is a bit strange to see someone sit alone and loiter around for hours working considering it is not what they’re accustomed to as social normalities. Personally, on the other hand I enjoy being alone, so I was not bothered by it. The handful of times I visited Colline’s I tried different beverages and actually enjoyed them. The coffee isn’t strong like Europe or America, but it’s beautifully done. The drinks and desserts are presented in wooden trays, and it’s as if these cafe employees have been taught food styling for years. Cakes are made fresh every day, and sit in the window of the counter like a diner. They also serve tea over a candle, affogatos, among other sweets presented in a trendy ways.
Quality wise, I wouldn’t say it’s worth a michelin star, but it is better quality than most. All in all, the prices of cafes in Asia are pretty expensive, and $6-7 for a latte isn’t really worth it for most, but for first timers, I would definitely recommend a visit to Colline’s, for the good vibes, and the beautiful aesthetic. Definitely bring a friend… or five, and watch Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away while you drink some coffee covered in cotton candy. I hope you enjoyed the first installment of coffee shop talk! Until next time, Au Revoir.