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The Hidden Cafés of Seoul, Busan and Daejeon

These days in Korea, to find cafés that are truly hidden requires more than a browse through travel guides and a quick scan of Google Maps – you have to pack a bag, put on your sturdiest shoes and wander through back-alleys, side streets and winding neighbourhoods to discover the often undiscovered.

But for those who can’t explore these places just yet, we’ve gone and done the footwork for you. So relax and get out your bucket lists, as we share our favourite hidden cafés within Seoul, Busan and Daejeon.

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SEOUL

Seoul is naturally an urban hive filled to the brim with coffee-houses and unique cafés; You can’t walk more than ten meters in this stunning, coffee-manic city without passing at least one or two thriving suppliers,

Aside from the well known establishments, the dedicated single-origin and roasting connoisseurs, and themed cafés, Seoul’s booming districts of Jongno, Yongsan and Mapo are also home to lesser known – hidden – cafés that most travellers could only discover if they were to be there themselves.

Café Breezin | 카페브리진

City views | Ideal for sightseers | Good atmosphere

©Cafe Breezin (카페브리진) by Sandi Benedicta, 26.03.2019, unsplash.com

Located in the steep neighbourhood of Samcheongdong, between Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbok Palace, Café Breezin is one of the many pedestrian rest-stops peppered throughout the area.

Known for their refreshing drinks and stunning views of the surrounding neighbourhood, Café Breezin is an ideal place to put up your feet and catch your breath as you explore the nearby sights.

Alley Forest | 골목숲

Scenic photo-ops | Friendly staff | City views

©Cafe 골목숲 by Sandi Benedicta, 26.03.2019, unsplash.com

Just a few minutes walk from Café Breezin is Alley Forest – also known as Café Forest – a sweet café with even sweeter staff and snacks.

Like the majority of the cafés, stores and workshops in Samcheongdong, Alley Forest was once a house that has since been converted into a lovely café with a comfortable atmosphere and excellent nighttime views of Seoul City from the rooftop.

Fun Fact: Golmok (골목) is the Korean word for back-alleys and side-streets, which are where most of the lesser-known cafés are located.

Hello Stranger | 안녕낯선사람

Laptop-friendly | Live music | Ideal for Groups

©안녕낯선사람, 26.03.2019, inspiremekorea.com

On the other side of Seoul, in the ever-bustling district of Mapo, is Hello Stranger – a peaceful café that provides an oasis of calm in one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city.

Despite their proximity to Hongik University and Hongdae, the owner of Hello Stranger, the passionate Moon Hye-jin, has been able to maintain both their cozy atmosphere as well as their high quality of service, and have not been replaced with a chain café or store – which has been the fate of many local cafés in the area.

Not only is Hello Stranger a great place to have a break from shopping and sightseeing it’s also a place where resident designers artists can sell their products, as well as a venue for local musicians.

Orang Orang | 오랑오랑

Vibrant atmosphere | Skilled baristas | Panoramic views

©ORANG ORANG curtesy of Katherine Dzbik, 26.03.2019, Instagram: kj_seoul_cafe

Nestled between the old lanes and rustic buildings of Haebangchon is the locally lauded OrangOrang.

Owned by die-hard coffee-lover Ahn Seon-Hyeonon, Orang Orang has built up a reputation for having a rustic atmosphere, excellent, high-quality coffee as well as 360-degree views of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Haebangchon is a unique area that has transformed a lot over the years – from a settlement for North Korean and Vietnamese refugees in the late 50’s into a progressive neighbourhood known for its diverse residents, trendy restaurants, celebrity-curated bookstores and little-known cafés.

Orang Orang is also in-between many sightseeing attractions, such as Itaewon, Namsan and N Seoul Tower.

Takeout Drawing | 테이크아웃드로잉

Vibrant atmosphere | Skilled baristas | Panoramic views

©테이크아웃드로잉, 26.03.2019, inspiremekorea.com

Down in Itaewon, Yongsan’s neighbourhood that never rests, is the quiet and spacious Takeout Drawing.

More than just a café, Takeout Drawing prides themselves on supporting local contemporary artists, incorporating the residency artist’s creative work into the café’s interesting menu – with drinks such as the Iceberg Macchiato (빙산 마끼아또), Jindallae Ade (진달래 에이드) and Flying sun-squirrel (햇살 다람쥐).

Due to the café’s strong artistic atmosphere, Takeout Drawing is perfect for those who want to explore their creative side whilst they relax with a unique drink.

Find out more about Yongsan’s rustic cafés HERE.

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BUSAN

When people hear Busan, the first things that usually come to their minds are; Haeundae Beach, busy port markets, BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) and, if you’re a fan of Korean horror films, zombies.

Besides these beloved sights, travellers often discover that this bright sea-side city has a deep and rich coffee culture – as well as their fair share of hidden cafés.

TERAROSA COFFEE | 테라로사커피

Vibrant atmosphere | Skilled baristas | Panoramic views

©TERAROSA by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

Converted from an industrial factory into a stylish and authentic coffee-house, TERAROSA COFFEE offers the best of two worlds – Busan’s old infrastructure as well as the area’s contemporary caffeine-scene.

Aside from delicious, home-brewed drinks, this café is also home to a bakery that is known for its particularly scrumptious baked goods.

Another one of TERAROSA’s charms is the fact that it is a part of a complex building called F1963, which is home to a bookstore, gallery as well as other cafés and restaurants – making it a frequented destination for anyone living in or visiting Busan.

Hamheung Coffee | 함흥커피

Hand-drip coffee | Comfortable atmosphere | Tasty snacks

©함흥커피 by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

In the easily recognisable district of Haeundae resides Hamheung Coffee – a vintage café with a beach shack-inspired interior and Vietnamese menu.

This retro-themed café has become known by both locals and travellers alike for their authentic delicious dark roasted and hand-drip coffee as well as their authentic Vietnamese meals.

©함흥커피 by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

Heavily reminiscent of analog eras, Hamheung Coffee is a slice of Saigon in the sun-kissed streets of Busan. Another one of the cafe’s highlights is its proximity to Songjeong Beach (송정해수욕장), which is only a few minutes walk down the street.

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DAEJEON

Despite being Korea’s fifth largest metropolis, the city of Daejeon is often overlooked by coffee-hunting travellers who tend to focus on the bigger cities we previously explored.

Although it might not have the same intense pull that Seoul and Busan have, Daejeon still has much to offer Korea’s growing coffee-scene – you just need to know where to look.

Time & Pasta | 타임앤파스타

Central location | Affordable coffee | Delicious brunch

©타임앤파스타 by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

Sitting in the popular district of Yuseong, Time & Pasta is a European-themed café that has become known for its delicious meals, relaxing interior and its high-quality yet inexpensive coffee.

Since this café is located in one of Daejeon’s most trendy commercial areas, Time & Pasta is the perfect place to have brunch, or a simple coffee with friends or even by yourself as you explore the many tourist attractions in Yuseong.

Time & Pasta is also a few minutes walk from Silver Park (은구비공원), which you can stroll through after your visit to the café.

Café Adobe House | 카페 어도비하우스

Healing atmosphere | Insta-worthy | Scrumptious snacks

©Adobe House by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

Hidden along the streets of Daeheungdong is the inconspicuous Café Adobe House, a stylish and homely coffee-house that you could easily miss if you weren’t paying attention.

Located in a large renovated house, Adobe House is usually abuzz with customers who utilise this café’s spacious interior by meeting up with friends, working on their laptops or to simply take time to heal from the stresses of everyday life.

With many places to sit and relax, from the seating outside to the second floor terrance, Adobe House is full of simple charm and homely vibes – both of which make it a peaceful environment to rest in.

©Adobe House by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

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Want to discover more about Korean cafés and coffee? Check out our articles on Seoul, Busan and Daejeon’s coffee districts HERE, Korea’s café culture HERE or read up about Korea’s interesting coffee history HERE.

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Feature Image Source: ©함흥커피 by rawkkim, 27.03.2019, unsplash.com

Claudia Deborah (이보라)

Local book dealer by day - goblin writer by night. 제 생명은 조금 심심하고 단순하지만 제 인생은 한 번이에요. 그래서 저는 단순한 일상에 감사함을 느껴요.

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