What is it about coffee houses that allow visitors a sense of comfort and familiarity? We’ve all been to one at some point or another, and we can’t deny the fact that they’re cozy at best… unless, of course, you’re at a coffee house where a simple latté costs no less than $10.
Friends – one of this generation’s most watched TV show – was famous for it’s fictional coffee shop, Central Perk. We became familiar with its set, and, soon enough, on Thursday nights it became our coffee shop as well.
I was never truly fascinated with the ambiance of different coffee shops until I moved to Seoul, South Korea, three months ago. This city is quickly becoming one of the most westernized areas in all of Asia, and, as the devotion to western brands grows, so do the number of cafés.
Coffee shops literally line the streets of Seoul. From bigwig franchises such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, to the small, family-run cafés, there’s never a lack of choices for caffeine highs.
But what’s truly entertained me in recent months are the various themes that come with the cafés. Owners dedicate themselves to mimicking the soft, cozy comfort that adorns European coffee shops. However, in this city, they’ve taken décor a step further – it’s not simply a matter of interior design, but also about the mood and exterior.
There’s cafés dedicated to pets and their owners. Puppy cafés allow visitors to come in, have a cup of ‘jo, and pet a few furry friends during their stay. The animals usually belong to the owners, but, sometimes, patrons bring their own friends along for the visit. The dogs are friendly and even know how to pose for photos.
Finally, keeping things entertaining, and almost out of a scene from Astrix and Oblix, how about having a drink in a barrel? I found this gem hidden down an alleyway, just across from the book building. Even the mood lighting was cool.
What’s amazing about coffee shops in Seoul is that they serve everything from coffee to beer. Visitors can stay for as long as they want… and they usually do. One latté and cookie has bought me about three hours at Café DaVinci, with a window seat that looks out to the world.
As a writer, I couldn't be happier at this very moment.