Coffee Shop Sunday
My time in South Korea was dominated by 3 things: food, coffee, and happy accidents. By happy accidents I mean my friend Brittany and I getting lost everyday and stumbling into something amazing.
Coffee was an essential part of my trip and, lucky for us, Itaewon was not only chock full of coffee shops but, those coffee shops were also 24 hours.
*Disclaimer: Not ALL coffee shops were open 24 hours, but a good chunk of them were or they stayed open really lat(t)e.*
Pro tip #1: 24 hour establishments are a godsend! Because yes, you probably will stay out until at LEAST midnight and yes, even if you decide to stay in for the night, you will most DEFINITELY decide that you want food at 2 am. (Shout out to 7/11)
Here's an insight to the coffee shops we visited through a little review that we at Not Your Average Fangirls like to call, Coffee Shop Sundays.
The first stop in this unexpected Korean coffee tour is good ol’ Starbucks.
Let me just say that Starbucks Korea is amazing! Not because of the coffee but, because of the pastries and the merchandise! Like seriously, Starbucks America needs to step its game up. But, my dear bean water enthusiasts, this is a coffee post and therefore is not about the pastries; the wonderful, delicious pastries. This is about the coffee and the coffee alone.
The menu has the standard Starbucks drinks that we all know and love but it also has a few drinks that you can only get in South Korea. One of them being the matcha espresso fusion, which is exactly what the name implies, and a rice drink frappuccino (which is delicious).
Pro tip #2: I highly recommend that you try all of the Korea based beverages because I mean hey, expand your palette and live a little ya know! Yay culture!
When I walked into the store, I told myself I was there for one reason and one reason only, to try an iced americano. Now, being a barista myself, I’ve had my fair share of iced americanos but always with vanilla and soy. But as any K-pop and K-drama fan would know, actors and idols LOVE black iced americanos so I was determined to compare, contrast, and test the hype.
That being said, I of course ordered a grande iced americano with vanilla.
Pro tip #3: Most of the baristas speak enough English to order and have small conversations. They will tell you their English isn’t good but it’s always amazing so make sure to hype them up! Also, they love when you attempt to speak Korean, even if you butcher it. Brittany and I spoke the little Korean we did know and they loved it. We love the sharing of cultures!
The americano was amazing! I didn’t need to add milk to it but I did for “scientific” reasons and guess what? It was even better! In that moment, I understood why Jaemin drinks 6 a day and why Yoongi had 3 different managers bring in at least 2 every other hour during rehearsals for their Fort Worth show.
Pro Tip #4: When paying with a card, Starbucks offers the option to be charged in Won or US dollars. Pick US dollars because the conversion comes out a little cheaper and you save yourself the conversion fee that your bank or credit card charges. Unless you’re balling and have one of those travel cards that don’t charge you a conversion fee. If that’s the case, then swipe away my dear world traveler.
Starbucks is Starbucks no matter where you go. The store may look different and there may be new and exciting pastries and drinks that you haven’t tried in your home country but the core of the store is the same. As for Starbucks Korea, I really enjoyed the baristas as much as I enjoyed the coffee. My americano was truly one of the best I’ve ever had but that also could have been because I was excited. Either way, it was my first coffee experience in Seoul and I give it 3 out of 5 beans.
Come back next week as we take another coffee break at a cafe that’s a little more homegrown!
And always remember to... Fangirl on!