The Unique Coffee Culture Of Korea

Updated on Aug 29, 2023 · By Tom

Coming from a country where people only go out to cut the head of royalties I was really surprised to see that most Koreans go to coffee shops to hang out, study, work and even more surprising: drink coffee. Going for a coffee after lunch is a real ritual in Korea. For some the energy provided by a good coffee help them going through their day, for others it is a way to follow trends and try the last hype drink!

Either way, with time I learned to enjoy going there and I now cannot survive if I don't have my coffee break every day!

Brace Yourselves, The Iced Americano Is Coming!


It's coke... It's ice tea... No, it's way worse.

I must start by addressing the worst thing in Korea (no, no I am serious), the go-to drink of most Koreans: the Iced Americano. For those of you lucky enough to not know about it yet, it consists of expresso shots mixed with cold water and topped by ice.

Being one of the cheapest (around 3 500 KRW) and most refreshing coffee, the iced americano is the most popular and less controversial drink around here, you can even often see actresses and actors drinking it in K-dramas. But even if its appeal to the general public is undeniable, to me it only tastes like water with a cold and bitter coffee aftertaste and I do believe that our Italian friends will feel the same way about it. However, I might just be a savage that do not appreciate such delicacies, so make sure to try it for yourself and let us know what you think!


You shall also be careful when choosing your drinks, Korean drinks might not have the same name!


Source: Craft Sense

A macchiato in Korea is always like the Starbucks caramel macchiato: a small expresso shot, milk and syrup. You also will have the option to change the topping with different styles of syrups and caramel.


Cafes Are Everywhere


You can find cafes in almost every corner of Korea, especially in Seoul. If you want a lot of choices and are more comfortable with big reliable franchises you can visit many of the local giants such as Hollys Coffee, Edyia Coffee or A Twosome Place. But if you prefer the coziness of little independent cafes you will also be pleased, even though COVID hurt many of these small cafes and some had to close, new ones still flourish all year long around the city. If you want to experience themed cafes you will find a mix of 2D cafes, flower cafes, and many more. If you love animals you can even find cat, racoon and even sheep cafes!

There you can enjoy all kinds of drinks, from the poplar milk tea, to coffee, lemonade and smoothies! Do not hesitate to try their various desserts, my personal all-time favorite is the red velvet cake.

When you order, take a vibrating pager and go find a seat. Wait for a bit and when the vibrator goes off bring it up to the counter, don't worry about your bag or laptop, you can leave it there! It still feels weird to me but you can always leave your things when you need to go to the bathroom or to take a call outside. In Korea even a phone left on a table under a giant sign reading "Steal me" would not be touched!

Let's Study Together


If you need a calm environment to study but the social media and all the other distractions at home is too much to bear, Korea got you!

Study cafes are paid cafes in which people come to study or work. Do not be afraid to try it even if they are crowded, they will still have a lower ambient volume than a library.

Customers can pay by the hour for around 4,000KRW or take a monthly card similar to a gym membership to come and study whenever they want to. Basic drinks such as coffee or tea are often included in the fee. It is not rare to find students studying there in the middle of the night, specially during midterms and finals!


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