For this blog, I decided I would share some of the differences I have encountered between South Korea and the United States in the accessibility to coffee. Here are some things I learned about getting coffee in South Korea:
- There are a lot of coffee shops in Korea, with multiple on every block. All of which will have similar menus and most of these menus include the English term for the coffee next to the Korean. That being said, it is very common to find English on menus in Korea, without anyone in the store actually speaking English. The same can be said for coffee shops. However, a lot of the coffee names are the same in English and Korean. For example, a Mocha is pronounced the same with the one difference being the division of the word into two syllables as they do in Korea.
- Most coffee shops do not open before 10 am in Chuncheon. This is something that surprised me at first. In the U.S, while most stores are not open before 9am, coffee shops are usually open early for everyone’s commute to work. In general, a lot of people in Korea, when they do not have work or school, are not usually out of their homes before 11am. This leaves most mornings on the weekend with pretty empty streets except for some senior citizens walking around. However, bakeries may be open around 8:30 for anyone who wants coffee.
- The coffee shop menu. In the U.S, it is very common to be able to order a cup of coffee and leave room in the cup for cream or milk. This is not an option in the majority of coffee shops in Korea. If you want just coffee with cream, your closest option is a cafe latte. When I explained to one of my Chinese friends the things you can find on a menu in the United States, she determined that “the United States has too many coffee options.” Which, after comparing the general Korean menu, and the one from the United States, might hold some truth to it.
- Convenient stores will sell cold coffee, hot coffee, and iced coffee. They also have a variety for teas and a hot chocolate option. There is always something for everyone. They also sell a variety of foods and are more common to use than going to a large grocery store, as we would in Florida.
- The music in coffee shops are different from the ones in the United States. While in the United States they will usually play a calm tone or song, in order to keep the atmosphere easy and relaxing, it is much more common to hear pop music in Korean cafes. Korean covers to Western songs, Korean Drama OSTs, and KPOP songs are the most frequent songs playing in both coffee shops and all the shopping districts.
There are also options available to brew coffee at home. For anyone who likes teas or instant cocoa/coffee, every floor of the dorms and most buildings on campus have a water machine that gives the option of both cold and hot water. These are some of the things I learned about cafes here in South Korea and how they differ from the United States.