On my first morning in Seoul, I woke up early for the divine purpose of coffee and breakfast. I got up before 6 AM and got out to a chilly and dewy still-sleeping city, with most restaurants and cafes still closed. I walked around hoping to find a small local coffee shop to no avail. There was a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf open near my hotel in Myeongdong, but I did not go to Seoul for a cafe that Manila also has. As much as possible, I wanted to avoid commercial coffee chains.
I would have chosen another coffee shop, but Hollys Coffee was the only cafe open early in my area, other than Coffee Bean. Hollys Coffee is a commercial coffeehouse chain but a homegrown one. It is one of, if not the oldest coffee companies in South Korea. It shares a big part of the coffee shop market with other South Korean chains like Ediya, A Twosome Place, Angel-in-Us, and Tom N Toms. Angel-in-Us has a branch closer to my guesthouse, but it was still closed when I went out.
Hollys was almost empty when I went. The cafe is your usual modern coffee shop chain, with an interior and ambiance similar to Starbucks but somewhat more pleasant. I ordered only a glass of hot caramel macchiato and decided to have breakfast at a restaurant when the morning sun was fully up. The coffee was good enough.
The morning ambiance of the cafe was really nice mainly because it was not yet crowded and noisy and therefore unhurried. I sat at a table on the second floor, facing the glass wall overlooking the street lined with trees still wet with dew.
The Hollys Coffee branch I went to was located on 84, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Hollys Coffee official website: www.hollys.co.kr/