• Natalia Setio

Spring Festival Special: Café Roaming in Seoul, South Korea

Chinese Lunar New Year is coming. Besides making a New Year’s visit and having a good time with friends and relatives, I believe some of people may choose to have a New Year trip so as to take a break before the start of the work. Last Christmas, I went to South Korea to meet my old friends. Whenever I go travel, I like to visit the local café: to drink a cup of coffee, to feel the coffee culture at that moment. The experience I had in Seoul last time, I would love to share to all of you.


This was my first station of the “Café Roaming” in this trip. That day morning was in -6, -7 degree Celsius, I was walking on a snowing Jong-ro 3 ga (종로3가)to find her trace. She is hiding at a traditional alley, near the Gyeongbokgung(경복궁). I stepped in the café and became the first customer.

HAECHI COFFEE is having a kind of traditional architecture style. The interior decoration, like the Vinyl record player, the old school radio and the classic lighting, are sort of the things from the early 20th century. I ordered a cup of coffee, sat back and relaxed, while enjoyed the snow view and the interior decoration. The coffee I was having is from Colombia, Inmaculada Laurina. It grows at 1740-2040sml, has the aroma of lemon, the taste of cane sugar and apricot sweetness, the aftertaste of rosemary. I asked the barista: “Did you guys roasted the bean as well? “Yes.” He replied. “The roastery is right behind this café.” Moreover, the single origin they offer will change according to the season. This is a café having both tradition and modernity.

2. TOPANGA Coffee Roasters

This is a café which was opened almost 2 years ago. She is taking care by a young couple and a barista. They are always busy before the office hour in the morning and after lunch time since of the location(which is near the Gangdong-gucheong(강동구청), the place where the civil servant works). I arrived at TOPANGA around 12pm on that day and was very lucky that I could have a chance to talk to them. The café named ”TOPANGA”, comes from the love of music of the young couples.

They knew each other in the café they used to work before. Having similar tastes and interests, they now own TOPANGA together, who also are the baristas and the coffee roasters at the same time. Take a look of the mix and match of the color in the café, the intention of the interior design (even the tiny decoration), the setting of the coffee bar and the tables and chairs, you would be amazed by her comfortably, which gives a peaceful feeling and a knowing smile. In addition, there is a small coffee roaster machine at the back of the café. The tasty coffee here was roasted in this “Avant-garde”, no matter the appearance and the performance.

  • Left: A guitar of young owner. It is put on the wall at a cafe corner. Sometimes in the afternoon, the owner will play guitar in TOPANGA. Music and coffee is a warm and harmonious combination undoubtedly.

  • Right: The "Stronghold" smart coffee roaster machine in TOPANGA.

That day I was sitting in front of the coffee bar, enjoying the coffee with plum and peach flavor, watching the barista showcased the automatic hand drip machine. The young owners were busy in front of the Italian coffee machine. I was having a feeling that TOPANGA is a space joining busy and leisure together harmoniously.


This was my last station of the “Café Roaming” in this trip. The café lays on the side street near Hongdae(홍대). That day, I and my friend were strolling around after lunch, suddenly saw this café with a lot of coffee brewing tools showing in the window. So we say “Why not?”, and we went in.

I ordered a hand drip coffee from Dominica which is not usual in Hong Kong. The barista was calm and unhurried, preparing the beans, brewing tools with his confident. I sat at a corner with my friend, admired the colorful display: coffee cups with different colors and patterns, hand coffee grinder with different shapes and forms. It was really pleasing. Enjoying a cup of coffee with grapefruit acidity and green grapes sweetness, I was thinking that the café owner must be a collector. He/ she was showing his/her collection accordingly. This is a place that his/her collection can shine brightly, and a place the pedestrians can take a break. Owning such a place maybe a dream to all the baristas.

We stop here, but this is not an end definitely. “Café Roaming” would see you again sometime in the future. Wish all of you a happy Chinese Lunar New Year.

Café information

  • HAECHI COFFEE 해치커피 Address: 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 10길 85-5 Opening hours: 11:00am- 09:30pm opens 365 days

  • TOPANGA coffee roasters Address: 서울특별시 강동구 성내로5길 21 (성내동537-16) Phone: +82 02 488 1626 Opening hours: Mon- Fri 08:00am- 10:00pm Sat 10:00am- 08:00pm Sun closed

  • KALDI COFFEE Address: 330-10, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul Phone: +82 02 335 7770 Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00am-11:00pm Sat-Sun 11:00am-11:00pm

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