Walk around any populated metropolitan city in the US and you are sure run into several Starbucks, a Coffee Bean and a few smaller specialty or home-run places.
Walk four blocks in any direction in Seoul and only the rare few will find less than ten. Angel-in-Us, Twosome Place and 나무그늘 cafes line the streets next to Starbucks and Coffee Beans. There is more variety in cafes in Korea than in fastfood or restaurants for that matter.
Why? Maybe it could be due to saturation of western culture or an evolution of the asiatic affinity for tea but does it really matter?
Korea has taken cafes and coffee shops and turned them into a new enterprise making Starbucks look outdated and out of fashion. I’ll admit, I still grab a venti Frap or a large Black Forest blend every once in a while, but nothing compared to when I had my feet cleaned by fish after sipping a sweet potato latte or found myself in one of the many themed cafes like the Charlie Brown Cafe (홍대입구, Hongdae).
Cafe hopping in Korea is a pasttime of its own ranging from the chains and “mom n pops” to upper eschelon chique and hundreds scattered in between. Finding a favorite isn’t hard and you can spend a long time ordering the same things and drinking in the western influenced but completely different ambience, but if you cafe hop like me… good luck visiting the same place for longer than a week when you try the next drink around the corner.
Try looking up “Cafes in Korea” on google for a decent top ten. While they may not be top destination sites on their own, I’ve dropped by a few when I make trips to the area. Also, Dr. Fish is not to be missed.