Kaldi Coffee in Seoul (Hongdae)

Before this, I went to Baek Jong Myung White Coffee in Yeonnamdong

Kaldi Coffee is a premier producer/distributor of charcoal coffee in South Korea and other countries, especially Japan. As I understand it, Kaldi Coffee in Hongdae is its first-ever shop, and it also has a coffee “factory” in Gyeonggi-do.

In Hongdae, Kaldi Coffee is located on a more discreet street adjacent to Eoulmadangro or Hongdae Walking Street. What stood out to me, besides the laid-back ambiance, was their display of vintage manual brewing equipment. There is a second floor, which a poster said you could be in a more intimate setting where you can watch a barista charcoal-brew coffee. However, sadly that area was closed at the time of my visit.

Kaldi Coffee is known as the first to introduce charcoal coffee to Korea’s coffee scene, and the coffee shop has been in the industry for decades, although I can’t say for sure where Kaldi stands in the market now or how famous it really is. However, their coffee offerings and philosophy sure seemed special.

As I did not have a craving for black coffee, I ordered their iced vanilla latte macchiato (5,500krw). I don’t know—nothing stood out much, but I wouldn’t say the coffee was bad. It just tasted normally good. Maybe it’s because the coffee was already mixed with milk and syrup and other ingredients so I could not appreciate charcoal coffee. For the uninitiated and with an untrained palate, since charcoal coffee is subtle, perhaps it would be best to order it black at first—maybe add a bit of sugar and later on milk after you’ve savored the brew in your mouth.

The best part for me was simply the ambiance. On a weeknight, the crowd was light and hushed. I met a new friend, which also made this cafe more personally memorable. It was a good environment for friendly conversations, but even for the solo-goer, it would be perfect. I would go here even by myself, with my journal and color pens, as usual.

Seoul sure is a coffee lover’s paradise.

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