This one time while on the Upper East Side, I couldn’t find a Starbucks. That sounds basic, but I’m pretty sure it’s high up on the list of ultimate NYC fails. There are Starbucks on every block.
Similarly, cafes are everywhere in Seoul and Suwon. I’ve heard it argued that this is because apartments are small, so people need somewhere to work and chill, which I guess can be said of any urban city. But seriously, cafes are everywhere. I’m currently in one as I type. There’s another cafe next door, and another directly next door to that one (and after an apartment building, another next to that one). I’m not sure how they all stay in business. Guess the demand must be that high.
I’ve probably spent more on coffee in the past four months than I did in all four years of college, but it’s not really the coffee I’m going for; it’s more the environment. Think of it this way, four dollars for four hours studio rental, plus a free drink. Werk. At least that’s how I’ve been justifying it to myself since I find a cafe to write in pretty much everyday. No lie. No shame. #grind.
The Cafe is basically an extension of the home, a communal living room. Don’t be surprised if you see people with their shoes kicked off, couples watching movies, businessmen playing cards, or — if your in Hongdae at 4:00am — people passed out, game over.
Here are some of my favorite cafes thus far:
* Starbucks doesn’t have free WiFi. You need an Olleh account.
(Some of these may be franchises; I’ve just never seen them anywhere else.)
Cafe Mienne also plays US Top 40 music mixed with worship songs. The first time I went there, I couldn’t concentrate because I was singing too much in my head. On my second visit, the Backstreet Boys all of a sudden started playing, and I was like, Nooooooo! (read: YEEEEEES!). The people at the table next to me were singing along. That was a good moment…
It should be noted that “The Sheep Cafe” is a cafe with a sheep in a pen outside, not like a petting zoo. Perhaps still worth the trip. Menu looked pretty good.