So Many Cafés in Korea! - Why Koreans Love Ice Americano

DALL·E 2024-04-29 19.04.31 - A wide webtoon-style image featuring an Asian man wearing a baby yellow hoodie and a blue beanie. He is sipping an iced americano in the middle of a v.webp
Jul 12, 2024
The café culture in Seoul, South Korea, has become a significant part of the city's lifestyle. Cafés are not just places for coffee consumption but also serve as social gathering spots, offices, and study spaces. The high density of cafés can be attributed to the city's dense population, the demand for social spaces, and the competitive nature of the café industry.The love for iced Americano among Koreans can be attributed to its strong flavor, simplicity, affordability, and availability in almost every café across the country.
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Newsletter DNK


Before moving to Korea, I didn't drink much coffee, and iced Americanos certainly weren't my cup of tea. However, now, I find myself sipping on one now during every season: spring, summer, fall, and even winter.
'얼죽아' (얼어 죽어도 아이스 아메리카노) - ‘Even if I freeze, I'll have an Iced Americano’
When you first arrive in Korea you will notice everyone just running around having a iced coffee in their hands and an abundant amount of cafes around every corner. These range from large franchises to small to-go stalls, themed cafés, idol birthday cafés, and those specializing in baked goods and desserts. Over time, I've collected a stack of coupons from different Cafés. Usually, it’s Drink 10 Get 1 Free.
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The Role of Cafés in Seoul

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is often recognized for its fast-paced life and high-tech environment. But another aspect that is just as vibrant is its coffee culture. The city is teeming with cafés, each with its unique ambiance and variety of coffee. These cafés have become more than just a place to grab a quick drink - they are where people hang out, engage in long conversations, or even transform into offices.

Cafés as Social Gathering Spots

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of cafés in Seoul. This is largely due to the shift in cultural norms where cafés are no longer places solely for coffee consumption, but also serve as social gathering spots. People spend hours in these cafés, talking, studying, working, or simply enjoying the cozy atmosphere. With free Wi-Fi and power outlets readily available, many even bring their laptops and work from these cafés, making them a popular choice among digital nomads and students.

The Evolution of Coffee Quality Expectations

The growth of coffee culture in Seoul has also led to an increase in expectations when it comes to the quality of coffee. This has given rise to the popularity of roasteries, where coffee beans are roasted on the premises. Customers are not just looking for a caffeine fix but a quality coffee experience. Roasteries cater to these expectations by offering freshly roasted, high-quality coffee. They often source their beans directly from farms, ensuring transparency and sustainability in their coffee production process.
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Theory Why there are so many Cafés

Some theories suggest that the high density of cafés in Seoul could be due to the city's dense population and the increasing demand for social spaces. Seoul's urban landscape is filled with high-rise buildings and crowded streets, leaving little room for open public spaces. Cafés, therefore, fill this void by providing a welcoming and comfortable space for people to gather, work, or simply relax. The high number of cafés could also be attributed to the competitive nature of the café industry in Seoul. Many café owners continuously strive to differentiate their offerings and create unique experiences to attract customers, leading to a wide variety of cafés within close proximity to each other.

K-Pop Idol Birthday Cafés

A unique and exciting aspect of the café culture in Seoul is the concept of K-Pop Idol Birthday Themed Cafés. These are events where fans of various K-Pop groups, such as Twice, organize gatherings in rented cafés to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite idols. The cafés are decorated with all sorts of fan art, banners, and other decorations that showcase the love and devotion of the fans for their idols.
In addition to the festive atmosphere, these events often feature giveaways of high-quality fan goods. These may include items like photocards, key rings, and other merchandise. The quality and variety of these goods are a testament to the dedication and creativity of the fans who organize these events.
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One of the most exhilarating experiences at these events is the possibility of running into your idol. Some idols make surprise visits to these cafés to show their appreciation for their fans' efforts. Imagine sipping your coffee and suddenly seeing your favorite idol walk in!
These events also provide a great opportunity to meet other fans and make new friends. During some of my visits, I've been recognized by other fans who've seen my documentation of these events and my collection of fan goods. It's an experience like no other - a celebration of music, art, and community, all centered around our shared love for K-Pop.
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In conclusion, the rise of café culture in Seoul reflects evolving societal norms and a growing fondness for quality coffee. Cafés, with their distinct environments and superior offerings, are likely to continue being a vital part of Seoul's cityscape. Additionally, the love for Iced Americano among Koreans can be attributed to several factors. The drink's strong and straightforward flavor and simplicity is appreciated by many, especially in the hot summer months when it offers a refreshing and invigorating effect also its affordability and availability in nearly every café across the country make it a popular choice among Koreans.

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About the Author

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Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen)
Cloud Engineer / WebApp Developer 💻
Content Creator Bridging Korea 🇰🇷 to the World 🌎
Startup Founder based in Seoul, South Korea 🚀
The blog published by Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen) is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter.

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