It doesn’t take long for any visitor to find that the culture in Korea thrives on coffee.
It’s not unlike western culture, but coffee in Korea comes with a little more style.
Cafés in Korea are clean and modernly designed with a young fresh flare. They focus more on atmosphere and taste rather than convenience. You can’t help but want to stay and take a study break or chat a while with your friend while overly polite employees help you get a blanket or heat up your sandwiches for you.
With a market of global dominators, local chains and privately owned cafes, eventually you start to wonder, “Which one of the 15 cafés on this block should I mosey on into?” Well if you’re like me, you eventually make your rounds through this vast sea of caffeinated bliss. But If you’re looking for a recommendation of something a little more unique, I know just the place.
나무그늘 (translated to Tree Shade) located in 강남 (Gangnam).
It’s spacious and simple with a rotating display of art done by local artists. If you manage to nab a window seat, you get a nice view of the Gangnam strip below which is particularly relaxing on rainy days. Overall the atmosphere is calm and relaxed and the space is generally occupied with university students working on their assignments or taking a break from the many Hagwons that populate the area. On weekends, seats become a little rarer and the crowd a little rowdier.
I LOVE the coffee here, but of the extensive menu, I’m a huge fan of 고구마 (pronouced goguma) 라떼, or sweet potato latte. If you haven’t had one before, this place makes one of the better ones I’ve had in Seoul. While the idea may make many cringe a little, the taste more than makes up for the risk. So, if you’re visiting Korea and feeling adventurous you definitely need to try a sweet potato latte.
Wall art and sweet potatoes aside, there is one main drawing point that always leads me to recommending this location to others and his name is Dr. Fish. For ₩2,000, you get to stick your feet into a pool of what look like guppies who are eagerly awaiting to eat the dead skin off your feet. Appetizing I know, and you get 15 whole minutes of this. If you’re ticklish like me, it will be the longest 15 minutes of your life.
In the end, you will leave this café relaxed, with a belly full of caffeinated sweet potato and the freshest feet you’ve ever had! It’s definitely and experience to be had… and video taped.