My Top 4 Favorite Cafes in the Hongdae Area

One of the things I was most excited about when coming to Korea was the cafes! I started researching and saving cafes and bakeries that piqued my interest months before my flight but I still was not prepared for all the cafes I would walk past that drew me in. Everywhere I have gone so far has had at least one cafe every 2 buildings and every single one is unique in their own way. Some may be chain coffee branches like Starbucks or Ediya Coffee but others are independently owned with different themes and aesthetics to each one. On days where we get to work from home, I have enjoyed getting out of my small Hongdae apartment and exploring a new cafe. With the many coffees and matcha I have tried and breads and cakes that I’ve eaten, here are my favorite cafes in Seoul that I have visited so far: 

  1. Chani Bear Station 

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This was one of the first cafes I went to in Seoul but also the one I was most excited about in my list of cafes to go to. This cafe doubles as both a cafe/bakery as well as a stationary store. Their iconic bear logo is printed onto anything you can imagine: pens, phone cases, shirts, plates, laptop cases, the list can go on forever. One of my favorite purchases from here (excluding my coffee) was a stress ball keychain that looks extremely similar to the ice cream scoop in the picture. Not only are the stationary items cheap, but they are also extremely cute and good quality. Most importantly, the service here was amazing and my vanilla latte may be one of my favorite lattes I’ve had in Korea thus far. 

2. Koyo Bake Shop

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My first time visiting Koyo Bake Shop was on a day when my stomach was hurting so bad, I had to leave work early. My coworker thought it could be hunger so we stopped by this cafe to grab something quick and light that wouldn’t upset my stomach even more (I still got a coffee with whole milk though). Even with a stomach ache so bad, I could barely walk, not only did I finish my coffee and my bread but it was so good that I went back a second time once I felt better. Their garlic butter bread was the perfect balance of sweet and savory while being super light and fluffy, I truly don’t know how they did it. The first time I went, I got a vanilla latte that was super creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness to it. However, when I went back, I tried the iced matcha latte and it may be one of the best matchas I have ever had. The flavor of the matcha was super strong but they somehow were able to make it sweet without losing the matcha flavor. I will definitely be revisiting Koyo Bake Shop before I return back to the States.

3. Banjiha Coffee (반지하)

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I originally came to Banjiha Coffee for an event they were holding for BTS’s Jungkook’s solo debut of “Seven” with no plan on buying any food or coffee – just the gift bag they were selling for Jungkook. However, the pastries looked too good to miss out on so I got a cheesecake and my friend got a matcha cake. I will be honest, my cheesecake tasted a little dry but I would get it again if I also paired it with a coffee. The flavor of the cheesecake was perfect – not too sweet but also not too “cheesy.” The matcha cake my friend got is what makes this cafe one of my favorites so far. The flavor of the matcha was extremely rich, something I feel can be hard to do when baking a matcha good. There was a layer of cake and a thick matcha cream on top of it which made the flavor extra strong, the thick cream helped moisten the drier cake. I would definitely go back to try their coffees with the pastries!

4. Nott Coffee (노트커피) 

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This cafe was one that I found after my arrival in Korea but I was super excited to go visit simply based on pictures and aesthetics. I came here on a work-from-home day and the environment was perfect. There were a few people catching up with a friend inside but it was the perfect amount of background noise to focus on my work. The cafe is on the second floor which also makes the view outside the window pretty good. I got another vanilla latte here and the espresso flavor was very strong but perfectly balanced with the vanilla. I wanted to try the earl grey cake as well but didn’t end up getting it that day. I will definitely be back to try it!

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