Seochon’s Bear Café’s been getting a lot of hype from culture-savvy crowds of Seoul. Created by Design Eum, a publishing group that issues Bear magazine and Kinfolk Korea, Bear Café serves up specialty coffees paired with a tranquil ambiance and culture-related activities; housed in a charming 70-year-old hanok, it juxtaposes tradition and modernity with the well-preserved garden and quality café menus.
The espresso, Americano and latte are brewed with Coffee Libre’s blended beans, Bad Blood, while French press made with Namusairo’s seasonal single origin is also available. Bad Blood has a good balance of acidity, complexity of flavors and aftertaste. After one sip, you can definitely tell this is the highest quality of blending from Coffee Libre, which is arguably one of the best roasters in Seoul. The Americano has all the basic characteristics to the right extent and latte has a delicate balance coffee and milk. Gelana Abaya coffee from Ethiopia has notes of orange and Earl Grey tea, offering a unique flavor and crispness that lingers in your mouth for a while.
From time to time, seminars and exhibits related to lifestyles and art held at the café. While the drinks are reasonably priced, some of the selection is offered free of charge with a purchase of the magazines published by Design Eum. Note that Bear Café gets extremely crowded during weekends. It closes on Mondays and Tuesdays, which leaves only a few days a week to enjoy all of its offerings. Even when it’s busy, however, the staff provides kind and unpretentious service at all times.
Many of Seoul’s coffee geeks may agree: the Gwanghwamun area is filled with an array of quality coffee shops—such as Namusairo, Coffee Tour, Holdme Specialty Coffee and Tongindong Coffee Gongbang, to name a few. As Bear Café qualifies as a great addition to the list, a café crawl through the area might be a good idea, especially if you’re into specialty coffees.