A Coffee Lover's Guide to The Coolest, Quirkiest Cafes in Seoul & Beyond

A Coffee Lover’s Guide to The Hippest Cafes in Seoul & Beyond

Our guide to the newest and coolest cafes in Seoul and beyond! 

South Korea’s youth seek the latest trends in everything fashion in skincare. Consequentially, cafe culture is becoming more popular among these youth too, as they go around discovering the hippest joints to get their daily coffee.

Here is a list of the 10 coolest cafes in Seoul and beyond. From old-school cafes to those in shades of millennial pink, each cafe has a unique theme that attracts Korea’s trendy youth. And while Seoul may be the epicentre of this hip cafe culture, there are also other cafes across the country worth visiting too.

1. Onion Anguk – the cafe in Seoul with a hanok theme

Cafe Onion Anguk

Image Credit: Pro’vely YK

Located at the intersection of Anguk Station is Onion Cafe Anguk. This cafe is the third branch of the Onion Cafe chain, serving similar pastries and coffee as the other branches. However, while Onion Cafe’s previous stores boast of an industrial chic decor, the new Anguk outlet is housed within a hanok house. 

The hanok theme of the cafe blends in with the surrounding neighbourhood, given that the historic Bukchon Hanok district is walking distance from the cafe. The cafe is also right between the royal palaces of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, making it an ideal pit stop for those visiting the nearby attractions. 

Cafe Onion Anguk pastries and coffee

Image Credit: Yi Lu Chen

The cafe menu at Onion Cafe Anguk is not much different from its other outlets. While the cafe serves up delicious brewed coffee, most patrons order their delicious pastries that are on wide display. One of Onion Cafe’s speciality pastries is the Pandoro, a tall castella cake covered with generous amounts of powdered sugar. 

Address: Gyedong-gil 5, Jongno-gu, Seoul  

Opening Hours: Weekdays 7am – 9pm , Weekends 9am – 9pm 

 

2. Zapangi –  the cafe in Seoul that is tucked behind a vending machine

There are many cafes in Seoul that are hard to find, as Seoul’s multiple alleys make it confusing for first-timers to navigate around the city. Zapangi cafe in Seoul’s Mangwon district takes the hidden concept to a whole new level. For unsuspecting tourists, the cafe’s entrance looks just like any other vending machine along the street, albeit brushed in a bright shade of pink. 

Once you walk past the vending machine however, you will be greeted by the sight of cute pastries and neon signs in Zapangi cafe. Pink seems to be a recurring theme in this industrial chic cafe, as the furniture and cups are furnished in a shade of pink similar to the vending machine door. 

Zapangi coffee and mermaid tin cake

Image Credit: Auttung Poonporn

In line with the theme of the cafe, every drink order at Zapangi comes in a sleek neon pink cup. Besides the extensive drink selection, a fan favourite item is the mermaid tin cake (pictured above). With the tail of a mermaid sticking out from a sea of pink whipping cream, the cake definitely looks as good as it tastes.

Address: 400-2 Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 11pm 

 

3. Coffee Nap Roasters – the cafe in Seoul where you can sit on a floor of bricks

Coffee Nap Roasters

Image Credit: Coffee Nap Roasters

Yeonnam-dong might not be the first place for tourists to visit in Seoul, but it has become quite popular among teenagers for its many unique cafes. One of the more unique cafes located within the up-and-coming district of Yeonnam-dong is Coffee Nap Roasters.

As you get close to Coffee Nap Roasters, the cafe’s pure white exterior stands out among the stretch of old shophouses. But upon entering the cafe, you will notice that the whole floor is tiled with red bricks. The bricks even slope upwards to look like the rooftop of an old house. While no one (except the baristas) knows why the floor seems so uneven, at least it provides for a nice seating corner.

Address: 453-32 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Daily 9am – 10pm 

 

4. Cafe Yeonnam-dong 223-14 – the 2-D cafe in Seoul that feels right out of a comic book

Cafe Yeonnam-dong

Image Credit: Korea eTour

At first glance, Cafe Yeonnam-dong seems like any other cafe from the outside. The name of the cafe is also deceptively simple – they simply used the name of the street it sits on and building number! However, once you step into the cafe, be prepared to find yourself in another world: to be more precise, a page in a web cartoon. 

Cafe Yeonnam-dong is the brainchild of one J. S. Lee, who wanted to create a cafe that would be popular among Seoul’s trendy youth. The cafe takes its inspiration from the blockbuster drama W:Two Worlds, mimicking the comic book world that the protagonist ends up in. Even if you have not watched the drama, Cafe Yeonnam-dong’s unique interior is sure to pull you in. Just be sure not to get lost within!

Cafe Yeonnam-dong coffee

Image Credit: Maverick

The drinks at Cafe Yeonnam-dong include. What stands out from others is the cup that the coffee comes in. These cups, which are totally white and marked by black lines, blend in with the surrounding to look like they belong in the webtoon too.

Address: 223-14, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 

Opening Hours: Daily 11am – 9pm 

 

5. C.Through Cafe – the cafe in Seoul where coffee is a literal piece of art

C. Through Cafe exterior

Image Credit: Hello This Is Korea

Itaewon may be famous for its sketchy bars and international restaurants, but those who bother to look might find a hidden cafe around the corner. C.Through Cafe is one of those cafes with a simple exterior and interior design. However, what draws people in is the unique coffee art that can only be found in this particular cafe.

C.Through Cafe is helmed by barista Lee Kang Bin, who also creates all the coffee art seen on his instagram. Lee calls the making of his creations cream art, as it can only be done on hot beverages. 

C. Through Cafe art

Image Credit: (L) Jason Wang (R) Oleg Kiriyanov

Unlike the usual latte art, Lee’s creations will make the usual coffee leaf patterns seem dull and boring. For those who cannot take coffee, the cafe also has a vanilla milk option so guests can still get their cool creations without the caffeine guilt. 

Besides coming up with new cream art, the baristas at C. Through Cafe also create new drinks occasionally. A recent offering at the cafe is Scotchno, where butterscotch candy is infused into coffee to give it a sweet taste. However, the coffee itself looks so good, we don’t dare to drink it for fear of destroying this piece of art.

Address: 403-3, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, South Korea

Opening Hours: Daily 12pm – 10pm 

 

6. Stylenanda Pink Cool Cafe – the cafe in Seoul where pink is the name of the game

Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe

Image Credit: Hongdae LaiLai House

You may have heard of the famous Korean fashion brand Stylenanda, but did you know that they also have a cafe right within their physical stores too? 

The Stylenanda Pink Cool Cafe is located on the 5th floor of their Myeongdong flagship store. In line with the store’s posh theme, the cafe is decorated like a swimming pool in an exclusive girl’s club. Shades of neon pink adorn the walls and the furniture, as guests order their drinks and relax. If the weather is good, guests can also head upstairs to the rooftop terrace.

Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe drinks

Image Credit: Tessa

Just like the unique decorations in Stylenanda Pink Cool Cafe, the cafe menu consists of some quirky options too. If you really like pink, you should definitely order their cotton candy soft serves, which comes with a dollop of pink cotton candy. After a long session of shopping at Stylenanda, hang out with your friends over coffee at its in-house cafe.

Address: 66-2, Chungmuro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Daily 11am – 11pm 

 

7. Hakrim Dabang – the cafe in Seoul that is lost in time 

For the uninitiated, dabang is used to describe places in Korea that serve coffee and similar beverages. However, as modern cafes appear along Seoul’s busy streets, its old-school coffee houses are slowly losing their place in the metropolitan city of Seoul. 

Hakrim Dabang

Image Credit: Clare Lim

Enter Hakrim Dabang, one of the surviving traditional dabang in Seoul. Hakrim Dabang opened in Seoul’s northern district of Hyehwa in 1956, making it one of the oldest cafes standing. Even after 60 years, the cafe retains its retro atmosphere, evident from the browning vinyl collection behind the counter.

As one of the last traditional coffee houses in Seoul, Hakrim Dabang is also featured in some famous Korean dramas. For example, fans of ‘My Love From The Stars’ and ‘The Heirs’ may recognize Hakrim Dabang’s old-school sofa chairs immediately. If you are an avid fan of any of these dramas, a pilgrimage to Hakrim Dabang should definitely be on your itinerary!

Hakrim Dabang coffee and pastries

Image Credit: Seoul Selection

While the interior might be too retro for your liking, the cafe menu offers the standard drinks one would find at any other cafe. We recommend the vienna coffee – a style of coffee infused with whipped cream – as you can rarely find this kind of coffee in Seoul. Pair your coffee with Hakrim Dabang’s homemade cream cheese cake, topped with a scoop of jam for that tangy taste.

Address: 119 Daehak-ro, Myeongnyun 4(sa)ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 11pm

 

8. Cafe Aewol Monsant – the cafe in Jeju owned by a celebrity

Cafe Aewol Monsant exterior

Image Credit: Callie Lim

Jeju Island’s cafes may not be as famous as their Seoul counterparts, but Cafe Aewol Monsant is gaining popularity among Koreans for its views. Because the cafe faces the west, the best (and most popular) time to visit is during sunset. Many visitors head to the cafe for unobstructed views of the sun setting beneath the horizon.

Besides, the cafe is opened by probably the most famous Kpop idol in the world: G-Dragon. Thus, many flock to the cafe for a chance at meeting such a popular person. Even if they don’t get to see their favourite oppa, the spectacular view of the ocean makes up for it.

Address: 56-1 Aewolbukseo-gil, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

Opening Hours: Daily 9am – 7pm

 

9. Waveon Coffee – the cafe in Busan that blends in with the sea

Waveon Coffee exterior

Image Credit: Waveon Coffee

Waveon Coffee may not be near Busan’s beaches, but that has not deterred people from visiting the cafe by the sea. Built with an open design concept, Waveon Coffee allows its customers to relax within the premises. If the weather is nice, they can also head to the cafe rooftop to admire the sparkling waters off Busan’s coast.

Coffee from Waveon Coffee

Image Credit: Jay H Park

Waveon Coffee offers a wide selection of brews and pastries for customers to enjoy, so they can spend more time by the beach. The coffee cups even come in a pattern similar to that of flowing water. As you take a sip of coffee, you are always reminded of the vast sea right in front of you – a sign for you to enjoy the present as it is.

 

Address: 286 Haemaji-ro, Jangan-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan

Opening Hours: Daily 11am – midnight

 

10. Shim Story Seoul – the cafe in Seoul where you can get a shut-eye

Shim Story Cafe

Image Credit: Shim Story

Sometimes, people head to cafes for a good rest. Others even try to take a short nap in the cafe itself. Introducing Shim Story Seoul, a cafe that allow customers to have a more comfortable nap. Located right in the busy district of Gangnam, Shim Story allows its visitors to unwind in a calm environment.

Having beds inside a cafe might seem strange to most of us, but it is a godsend for most sleep-deprived Koreans. In fact, South Koreans are one of the most overworked people in the world, so they utilise whatever break they can get to catch a breather. 

Inside Shim Story, customers can choose to relax in the common lounge, where they can play some video games. For those needing to catch a wink, Shim Story also offers sleep packages. The cheaper option is to rest in one of the many massage chairs, although customers can top up a bit to have a proper sleep on a heated bed. No matter which package customers choose, it will include free flow tea for them to calm down.

Address: 17 Yeoksam-ro 3-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 10pm

 

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Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.

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