Jihye Chang

“Coffee Shops”

Chan’s Espresso Bar-One of the best espressos in Seoul!

If you want to see a lot of good lo0king young people hanging out, or taste the “it” food for those young people, or hear Korean indie rock bands performing, you need to visit the Hongik University area (aka Hongdae). I have a soft spot in my heart for this area, but it is so far away from where my parents live or anywhere that I visit regularly that I rarely have a chance to go there whenever I am in Seoul.  But this summer I had a mission – visiting the rising star cafe of this area, Chan’s Espresso.

Their machines are very fancy and justly famous among Korean bloggers – Synesso and La Marzzoco espresso machines, the Clover coffee machine, Mazzer grinders, Everpure water filtration system, and even the orange Smeg refrigerator. Instead of roasting their own beans, Chan’s imports beans from the famed Tim Wendleboe of Oslo and Intelligenstia of Chicago. Unfortunately, that means that the beans will never be completely fresh due to the shipping time from Norway and USA to Korea. However, I think it works better than roasting poor quality beans, which happens often in a lot of new roastery-cafes in Korea. Also they don’t do the latest Korean cafe fad of cakes, sandwiches, or waffles – only coffee. I like that.

Let’s get straight to the point: I was highly impressed with the Tim Wendleboe double shot cappuccino! It was a totally new experience for me to enjoy espresso so deep and layered with so much complexity. It also looked much thicker than the regular espresso shot, and had an almost terra cotta-like color. I usually prefer espresso on the sweet side and not too acidic, but this Tim Wendleboe cappuccino had a really pleasant acidity that I enjoyed very much. Also it had a deep sweetness as well as really great body-feel to it. I wish I had been able to compare the Tim Wendelboe espresso to a shot of Intelligentsia, but by then I had already consumed too much coffee and could not handle any more! Oh well – such was my luck.

My husband ordered Tim Wendelbo’s Kenya brewed by Clover. That was not as good as the cappuccino. It was too muddy, had too much sour flavor, and just not good.  It might also have been the Clover machine, which I find myself liking less and less…

Anyways. Chan’s cafe is cultivating a very serious fan base already, which doesn’t surprise me at all given the quality of their coffee. It’s a place that I will definitely go back next time I am in Seoul.

Location: Seogyo-Dong, Mapo-gu, 409-10 (“Parking lot street”, aka “Joochajang georit”)

To find your way: Take subway #6. Get off at the Sangsoo station. Exit #1. Turn back and go toward “Geukdong Electronics” and look for a restaurant called “Yogi” and 7-11 convenience store. Take the small road between those two and walk toward “Donkatsu cham jalhanun-jib” and you will see Chan’s on your right. (It’s a labyrinth kind of area with many little cafes and restaurants, and Chan’s has a big, black steel door and a big glass window at the front.)

Price: Espresso for 5500 won (about $4.8)/ Macchiato, Cortado, Americano for 6000 won/ Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha for 6500 won