Coffee with Character, Part V

The temperatures in Korea are dropping quickly.  Too quickly if you ask me.  Soon enough, Seoulites will be forced to bundle up and head indoors to escape the harsh Korean winter weather..  While there are plenty of things to do throughout the city during the winter, there’s no better place to pass a cold day than in a cafe- especially when it’s themed. So, just in time for winter, I give you a new list of places to explore during the cold season to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, served with a whole lot of character.

1.  Capi Capi Loom Loom Cafe:  If you’ve had your fix of Hello Kitty and want to cuddle with another cute Japanese character, Capi Capi is the place for you.  Rilakkuma, a ridiculously adorable teddy bear famous throughout Asia, is the star of this cafe in an unassuming building near Sungshin Women’s University. 

Upon entering the homey interior, customers are greeted by hundreds of stuffed Rilkkumas in addition to various memorabilia, all of which are for sale.  The layout of the cafe is quite unique; seating options include comfy couches, tables perfect for studying, and floor mats in cozy, private spaces, most of which were occupied by gossiping girls on my latest visit.  Rilakkuma is incorporated into every aspect of the decor and the entire place oozes with comfort and cuteness.  The employees were also cute, making and serving my green tea latte with great care.  They later brought out “service” (free) snacks, which made me like the place even more.  I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about Capi Capi, though I will be staying away from their “Ice Dog Bread”: a hot dog bun filled with whipped cream. 

To get there: Go through exit 1 of Sungshin Women’s University station (Line 4). Walk straight for 5 minutes until you reach a junction where you see Mr Pizza and turn left. Walk for one minute and you will find the cafe on your right.

2.  Gom Dabang:   For even more bears, head down to the theater district of Hyehwa to find Gom Dabang (“Bear Coffee House”).  Although small and a bit unorganized, it stays true to its theme.  Not only do stuffed bears line the shelves and walls, but baristas “paint” bear faces into the foam of their beverages.  There are even cute bear-shaped almond cookies for sale at the counter.

To get thereGo through exit 4 of Hyehwa Station (Line 4).  Take a left and walk down the main pedestrian strip for about 5 minutes.  When you reach the main intersection, take a left.  Follow the road for about three minutes.  The cafe will be on the right side of the street.  Look for the giant teddy bear sitting out front. (Map)

3.  Standing Coffee:  Speaking of cute, there’s one cafe that I’d like to recommend to all the girls reading this.  Although I suppose it isn’t exactly a ‘theme’, Standing Coffee is known for their good looking baristas (all male).  Perhaps that’s why no one has a problem waiting for take-out coffee, as there are no seats and there is almost always a line, as indicated by their name.  If you don’t go for the guys, do go for the coffee, as it is reported to be the best in the city by multiple foodies in the Korean blogosphere.  I personally love their blue lemonade, though it might not be the best option for winter.

To get thereGo through exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station (Line 6). Walk straight and go down to the underpass. When you come up on the other side, take the stairs on the right. Standing Coffee will be on your left. OR… Go through exit 1 of Seodaemun Station (Line 5). Walk straight about three minutes and it will be on your right.

4.  Thanks Nature Cafe:  If you’re a nature lover, Thanks Nature Cafe is place for you.  Beautifully decorated, the cafe exudes a zen-like atmosphere with lots of greenery and a simple, clean design.  There are also artistic portraits of various animals that hang neatly on the walls, but one animal stands out in the motif: sheep.  In addition to figurines and stuffed versions, there are two live well-groomed sheep that reside at the cafe.  Unlike the pet cafes, the sheep are kept on the outside patio in a charming little pen, baaaaahing every now and then.  There is no noticeable sheep smell in the cafe’s interior, so visitors can enjoy their coffee in a clean setting.  Thanks Nature Cafe’s menu features a nice selection of beverages, all of which are made with natural sweeteners, a refreshing change from the over-sugared drinks served at most other Korean cafes.  Try their waffles, which are also phenomenal.  Just don’t get them too close to the sheep.

To get there:  Go through exit 9 of Hongik University Station (Line 2).  Go left and follow the crowd to the main street.  Take a right at the intersection and follow the road to the next main intersection.  Take and left and walk up the hill for about one minute.  Find Thanks Nature Cafe on the left beneath Café Cantata.

Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the “Coffee With Character” segment for even more fun themed cafes.