With sweet desserts and enough caffeine to clear one’s head, cafés are a must! Many travelers make use of the comfortable ambiance and Wi-Fi found in cafés to enjoy a moment of rest in their busy schedule while fueling up on energy between meals. These days, some people are even going so far as to set off on café tours, exploring all the latest and greatest coffee shops available in the area! The following cafés are the hottest cafés in Seoul based on Instagram posts.
Avec El is French for “with her,” and the sweet interior decorated with lovely items is just as romantic as the name implies. One’s heart can’t help but be moved by the items of daily life that might decorate any home, from the hand-made candles to the air fresheners and tea cups. All of the items on display within the café are available for purchase. Despite being a rather small café, each table has plenty of space to enjoy a comfortable and laid-back time.
The focus at Avec El is on apples; a plate of freshly sliced apple comes with each order. The ringo latte which can only be found here is a perfect blend of apple and milk. If you find yourself in need of some caffeine, we recommend the macha aurora, a green tea latte with a shot of espresso added for a kick. During the hot summer months, many people order summer forest toast and mango soda. Summer forest toast, a specialty of Avec El, features jam made from Jeju green tea powder and fresh peaches, red bean paste, and gourmet butter. The earl grey chiffon cake is also extremely popular, releasing a strong scent of tea that is sure to boost one’s mood for the entire day.
Oriole is a famous rooftop café operated by singer Jung Yup. Located on a high point of the Haebangchon ridge, Oriole offers views of Haebangchon and the Itaewon area, as well as Namsan Seoul Tower. Oriole operates as a café during the day, but transforms into a dining space and bar after 6 pm. There is nothing quite like having a cold beer while taking in the view. You might want to arrive early if you’re planning on enjoying the nightscape, as they do not take reservations.
Oriole’s menus offer standard coffee options. Desserts include tiramisu, made with mascarpone cream cheese, and sweet vanilla and raspberry cream-filled dacquoise. While there aren’t many choices, the dishes are made to perfection, able to remove one’s fatigue after just one bite. Before leaving Oriole, there is one photo zone you can’t pass up! The café space on the first floor features a miniature two-person table set on display by the window. Many people enjoy taking pictures of this small setting placed before the backdrop of Haebangchon.
Café Under Pressure operates with the idea of creating a space where one can enjoy a special break time with delicious coffee. The café is located in a remodeled living space and features a terrace transformed into a mini garden. The second floor features comfortable seating around tables with plenty of space. The interior is designed with toned-down colors accented by the bright green of live plants to create a calm ambience. The café is located near D Museum, making it the perfect spot for a rest after enjoying an exhibition.
The specialty of Under Pressure is their latte. As the key to a great latte is in the coffee, Under Pressure roasts each batch of coffee beans separately. Guests can choose between the Latte 40 with two shots of espresso and the Latte 60 with three shots of espresso depending on how much energy they need. Under Pressure also operates a bakery, with decidedly sweet treats like a cheesecake tart and the big apple, a pleasing balance of apple and caramel. For a more unique dessert, we recommend the mint cream brownie, which comes served on a stick just like an ice cream treat. Dip it into the cream for a fun and unique experience.
Coffee Hanyakbang is located in an alley in Euljiro that is so narrow that you would have to close your umbrella to enter on a rainy day. Ignore the dreary vibes given off by the alleyway and the old wooden door; they only serve to protect the wonderful world that hides within Coffee Hanyakbang. The interior of this café is decorated with mother-of-pearl and lacquer ware items and antique roasting tools. Music is continuously played from LP records to complete the vintage aura.
Coffee Hanyakbang roasts their coffee beans daily through the direct contact method, something that is not seen often in other cafés. Through the direct contact roasting, the beans take on a smoky flavor that translates into the coffee grounds. Because of the strong flavor and smell, filter coffee is a must-try when visiting Coffee Hanyakbang! However, if you do not enjoy drinking coffee, the café also has raspberry, grapefruit-lemon, and grapefruit teas made in-house, as well as house-made raspberry yogurt. The owners of Coffee Hanyakbang also operate Hyemindang, the dessert shop just across the alleyway.
* This column was last updated in March 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.