Innisfree is a popular Korean road-shop cosmetics brand that builds itself around a 'natural' concept. These days it's common for beauty & apparel brands to open a cafe in their flagship store to draw in more customers and sustain the rent. There are 2 Innisfree cafes in Seoul: one in Samcheong-dong (이니스프리 제주하우스 삼청점) and one in Myeong-dong (이니스프리 명동점). I prefer the Myeong-dong location since it's a lot bigger/brighter and more conveniently located.
Location: 64-2, Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul (across from ZARA)
Store hours: Mon-Sun, 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.
This is no doubt the biggest Innisfree store I've seen in Seoul. You can buy their cosmetics and skincare products on the first floor, then head to the second floor where Innisfree Green Cafe (이니스프리 그린카페) is located. Innisfree does provide Tax Refund for foreigners so make sure to ask for a tax refund receipt when you purchase more than $30 worth of products.
Vibe: clean, quiet
Pros: plenty of electronic sockets, fast wifi, opens until late (11PM)
Cons: yet to find one
Instagram fanatics will fall in love with Innisfree Green Cafe at first sight. First, this cafe is SUPER BRIGHT so every spot will ensure an effortless insta-worthy shot. The interior, with its palette of cool, calm tones, gives out the impression of a green house. The second floor has a small miniature garden for its centerpiece while the third floor features a long, rectangular pond that stretches from one side of the cafe to the next. Even after many visits to other aesthetic cafes in Seoul, this place still maintains a high ranking in my Most Beautiful Cafes in Seoul list (still in the process of compiling).
One of the things I love most about this cafe is how easy it is to plug in your electronic devices. There are hidden sockets almost everywhere, and foreigners who are stuck with a huge, bulky adapter will cry tears of joy upon finding out that their plugs won't slip off these sockets. They also have separate wifi for each floor to make sure your snap gets out in a split of a second :D (ok maybe not Snapchat since it's dead in Korea).
SECOND FLOOR INTERIOR:
THIRD FLOOR INTERIOR (aka my fave hangout place in Myeong-dong)
THE FOOD & DRINKS
Overall quality: 4/5
Recommended items: Souffle Pancakes, Soy Cream Oreum Milk Tea
Pros: Seasonal menu, offer both healthy and healthy-ish options (you know what I mean)
Cons: Souffle pancake is notorious for sometimes taking as long as 2 hours
My favorite drink here is the Soy Cream Oreum Milk Tea that seems to be part of their seasonal menu. It's a foam-capped soy-based milk tea that somehow has hints of caramel and roasted grains. The Green tea Cream Oreum Coffee, a caffeine-on-caffeine-concoction, is quite interesting, but the coffee was way too acidic for my taste.
Both the Rice Blended Drink and Lemon Iced Tea were unimpressive. After watching Joan Kim's vlog of this cafe on Youtube, I was dying to try their Soy Milk/Walnut Smoothie but unfortunately they stopped offering it.
I've tried both their purple sweet potato and carrot cake and must say I'm pretty happy with both. Cream/frosting doesn't seem to be their strong point, but the cakes are always moist and lightly sweetened. One thing I didn't like about the purple sweet potato cake is that they frosted it with topping instead of whipping cream. If you're tilting your head in confusion, topping is an oil-based cousin of whipping cream that traded in its flavor for the ability to withstand a wider variety of temperature. Not the kind of trade I'd like to make.
The MOST POPULAR ITEM here is their Souffle Pancakes. I believe this trend started from Japan when a shop started folding (a lot of) meringue into their pancake batter and what came out was a fluffy, jiggly pancake which texture resembles that of a soufflé. After some research, it seems that Innisfree Green Cafe was actually one of the first to bring this treat to South Korea. You can also find these fluffy pancakes at Paulin Pancake in Hongdae or Sarr in Yeonnam-dong.
Unfortunately they stopped making it every time I went (which always happened to be late at night), but every single review I've read said the pancakes were nothing short of AMAZING. There were also quite a few complaints about these pancakes taking forever to arrive at the table, so make sure to set aside a bit of waiting time.
Another popular item is their Tiramisu. Although their sweets and drinks definitely change with the season, these Tiramisu cups are so popular they've become part of the fixed menu. I've heard good things about them (esp the Matcha one) from online reviews, but have yet to try it out myself. Tiramisu in Korea are generally cream-based, meaning the mascarpone is folded into whipped cream instead of beaten egg whites, so they tend to be a bit heavy. The mascarpone flavor also doesn't really come out in any of the variations I've tried elsewhere, so I wasn't confident that Innisfree could do it any better.
The cafe also carries some salads, brunch items, and juice blends. I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly decide to drop a greek yogurt menu *fingers crossed*.
PLANNING A VISIT?
Innisfree Green Cafe
Address: 64-2, Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul