Truth be told, I intentionally name the post this way as a click bait :)
This is simply a list of my favorite cafes among the ones I've visited in Seoul. Some for coffee, others for the atmosphere. If you want a rundown of the best cups of coffee in Seoul, head to this Timeout article instead: "Top 10 cafes for coffee in Seoul"
Since no one's here to read about my day-to-day or the life lessons I (never) learned, let's get started. There is no numeric ranking because my "favorites" themselves change on a case-by-case basis. I'll introduce them in the context that'd make them my #1 choice. Locations can be found at the end of the post.
Millo Coffee Roaster (밀로커피) @Hongdae
If you're looking for a good cup of coffee...
Tucked in the backstreets of Hongdae, this cafe is a real gem that offers specialty coffee with a simplified menu. Their signature drink Mont Blanc, coffee topped with whipped cream, closely imitates the classic Einspänner and is my most memorable cup in Seoul. I didn't have the chance to try out their whole selection, but the Dry Cappuccino often comes up in blog reviews. They also have bottled coffee and freshly roasted beans ready for purchase.
Another thing I love about this cafe is that it's super under the radar, so you usually don't have to fight for a seat or wait long for your coffee to arrive.
You can read more about them here
Follow their instagram @millocoffeeroasters
Address: 170-32 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul / 서울시 마포구 동교동 170-32
Idle Moments (아이들 모먼츠) @Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
If you're looking for a quiet, light-filled corner to enjoy that book you just bought...
I have an obsession with flan (creme caramel), which Idle Moments does an excellent job at. Their hand drip coffee is also really good and makes me doubt if there's anything on the menu that's NOT worth trying. Their signature drink is Viennese Coffee, which comes close to beating Milo Coffee Roaster's Mont Blanc.
The cafe is located on the second floor and might be a bit hard to find, but thanks to this location it boasts a wonderful view beaming with sunlight through the gigantic glass window. Just in case you came without a distraction and not much in mind, the owners have their own selection of books that might or might not be in your preferred language. As the name suggests, this is the perfect place to savor your idle moments.
Address: 467-2 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul/ 서울시 마포구 서교동 467-2
Bantable (반테이블) @Seongsan-dong, Mapo gu
If you're a fan of the "Little Forest" series...
I didn't have to ask to find out that the owners of this cafe, a group of girls in their twenties, are fans of the four-season series "Little Forest". "Little Forest" depicts the day-to-day of Ichiko, a complicated, self-sufficient young lady who grows and makes all her food from scratch. In the same spirit, Bantable focuses on making the best jams and fruit preserves out of the produce that captures the essence of each harvest season. I was lucky to be able to try their "bam chorim" (simmered chestnut), one that also appeared in the movie. They're known for fruit-ade (carbonated fruit flavored beverage) but since I came in Winter, the hot beverage menu sounded a tad more appealing. I really enjoyed their Cinnamon Apple Tea, which definitely went through some serious steeping/infusing process before hitting the mug and later my happy tummy.
This is also the coziest cafe I've been to in Seoul, so much that it almost felt like you stepped into someone's house and not a commercially leased space. One interesting fact is that they have a very strict rule on keeping the noise level to minimum. Even camera sounds are asked to be turned off so as not to disturb other guests.
Address: 467-2 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul/ 서울시 마포구 서교동 467-2
Innisfree Cafe (이니스프리 카페) @Myeongdong
If you love plants and/or makeup... #whynotboth
No doubt the best choice to sit down at after a day of shopping in Myeongdong. I wrote a 5 page long review on this cafe so please read about it here: Innisfree Cafe Review
Address: 65-2 Myeongdong, Jung-gu, Seoul / 서울시 중구 명동1가 65-2
Yeonnam Salon (연남살롱) @Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu
If you have my grandma-like standard for desserts and love outdated things...
If you ever tried google "Best bingsu" in Seoul, chances are you'll either end up at Sulbing or another chain that feasts on young people's fascination with either strawberry or green tea. I must be a grandma trapped in a 22 years old's body since I always go for the basic shaved ice with red beans. Therefore my definition of a good bingsu consists of (1) fluffy-as-snow shaved ice that's preferably made from milk and (2) glossy homemade red bean paste that still preserves the original shape of the beans. Yeonnam Salon probably has the best bingsu in this regard, with shaved ice so soft it's almost too precious to eat. I also love that they serve the red bean paste on the side, generously adorned with 3 huge chunks of rice cakes. The matcha pudding (photo) is another popular menu item, along with toasted rice cakes that come with a side of seaweed, yuzu syrup, and dark honey (which I forgot to take a photo of).
This is definitely more of a dessert cafe but it seems to attract customers of all genders. Oddly enough, the cafe's decorations remind me of the movie "Paprika" with its artistic turbulence enveloped in saturated colors and yellow overlay. There aren't that many seats in this tiny cafe, but I'd stand aside and wait for that bingsu every single time.
Address: 504-33 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul / 서울시 마포구 연남동 504-33
Crumb (크럼브 커피키친) @Ogeum-dong
If you want the smoothest cheesecake in Seoul... #instagramvibes
Let me start by admiring the amount of efforts this cafe puts into its social presence. Since these small cafes rely almost exclusively on word of mouth and social media to advertise themselves, having presentable photos is vital to their existence as a business. However, Crumb photos are BEYOND presentable! These photos gave me the motivation to spend almost an hour on the subway across Seoul to hunt it down.
The interior is very minimalist and isn't cut out for working or studying. With wooden block acting as stools and stools acting as tables, it's really a place where you come to sip down a quick conversation. Their most popular item is the Soft Cheesecake that strikes the perfect balance between a fluffy Japanese cotton cheesecake and decadent New York cheesecake. I'd take a shot and claim that this is the best piece of cheesecake you can find in Seoul, period. They've also been adding new items to the menu after I left Korea, which from their instagram looks absolutely stunning.
aA Design Museum Cafe (aA 디자인 뮤지엄 카페) @Hongdae
If you're travelling in a big group...
The reason I recommend this cafe for those travelling in groups is that it's incredibly spacious. With patios, garden, and 1.5 floors and a basement full of seating space, this cafe can easily hold 150 people at one time. It also doubles as a design museum which explains the careful attention to details in every single corner. The drinks here aren't really something to sing about, but they're definitely better than Starbucks. That being said, judging by the name, the selling point of this cafe has never been its beverage options.
Address: 408-11 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul / 서울시 마포구 서교동 408-11
Manufact Coffee Roaster (매뉴팩트커피) @Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
If you've realized by now that I'm an anti-social and you're not...
Manufact is a coffee roaster/cafe situated on the top floor of Queen Mama Market. They have several locations in Seoul, but the one in Sinsa seems to be more popular (despite having poorer reviews). I especially love the area around this cafe since it's chock full of designer boutiques and restaurants, none of which I can afford. The coffee is a bit more pricey thanks to its prime location in one of the fanciest districts of Seoul, so thank God it's actually decent.
The main selling point of this cafe is ecosystem of retailers that share the same mission of channeling your inner consumerism. In non-sarcasm: you can find a bookstore, home goods/misc shops, and pop-ups on the lower floors.
Address: 649-8 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul / 서울시 강남구 신사동 649-8
Oneului Wiro (오늘의 위로/Today's Comfort) @Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu
If you love tiny spaces and cute pastries...
This quaint little cafe is a few steps away from the end of Mangwon Market, which I highly recommend over more touristy markets in Seoul. This cafe has a tiny 19th century TV set that for some reason is always playing the same episode from the anime series Anne of the green gables (赤毛のアン). The owner, also the only employee in the store, makes all the pastries and all of them leave nothing to be desired. Case in point: my blueberry pie had a perfect crust and ooey-gooey blueberry compote. Accompanied by vanilla Ice cream, the pie disappeared within the split of a second.
FourB Roastery & Bagel Cafe (포비) @Hapjeong, Mapo-gu
If you're a YG fan and know that stalking the building is useless but are going anyway...
YG fans, even the name "FourBasic" screams that this is the place for you (pun intended). Located within walking distane from YG Entertainment Headquarter, this cafe has replaced that greyish building to become my reason to frequent Hapjeong area (half truth *cough*). It's also one of the few cafes that offer bagels, not to mention they're freshly baked on site. The coffee shop carries several single-origin and blends that were quite interesting to sample.
Besides the coffee, what impressed me the most about this place is their top notch customer service. The barista was very kind to offer me a new drink as I clumsily spilled my latte when picking it up at the counter. This was a pleasant episode of culture shock.
Caphe Cozy (카페 코지) @Ewha Women University area
If you want to try coconut coffee but don't want to board that flight to Vietnam...
Love coconut? Love coffee? Head to this small coffee stand near Ewha Women University (Edae) for one of the best coconut coffee in Seoul. They only do takeaway but that never bothered me 'cause the area's full of things to do. Next to this cafe is a decorative plant shop called Urban Jungle which sells the cutest pot plants for as low as $2. Across the road on the second floor is Namu Seom, a French-Korean fusion diner that provides the best bang on your bucks in Edae area.
Address: 34-44 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul / 서울시 서대문구 대현동 34-44
LOCATIONS & INFO
This cafe list is available on MangoPlate HERE