Cafe Review: Terarosa Coffee

Mini update: I have moved to LA, California and no longer live in Korea.

This means that there won't be any more reviews from Korea in the near future except that there will be. I recently discovered two cafes that I forgot to review from my time in Korea and so I will be reviewing those next. I'm a little sad that I can't explore any more cafes in Korea, but I am excited for future Korea trips. The world of coffee there is developing so quickly and there are already so many cafes I want to visit!

So anyway, here's my review for Terarosa Coffee. I will keep this one short, primarily because it was so long ago that I don't think I can write anything too in depth. However, there are two things that I distinctly remember from my visit. 1.) They have a beautiful space 2.) The coffee was underwhelming.

Terarosa Coffee is a pretty big company with several locations. I visited the one in COEX mall, and so I can't say anything about the other locations, but they have a really nice space. Open and spacious with plenty of seating and natural light. No complaints in that department. Additionally, everything is decorated with old fashioned furniture, textured walls, and random coffee equipment. And while I get what they are trying to evoke in the atmosphere, it ends up feeling a little too fabricated and practiced. 

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Which brings me to my next point about the quality of the coffee. I guess one of the problems of becoming a growing operation is that it becomes difficult to stay consistent. When it comes to aesthetics, it is often easy to implement some sort of formula to have a theme running through all the stores. However, coffee can be a bit more finicky and I think the quality of their coffee has been spread a bit too thin. I tried their iced latte and iced americano as it was a hot day, but I was quite disappointed with my drinks. The coffee wasn't able to shine through the drinks and so the americano just tasted watery while the latte was milky. I get that a latte is mostly milk, but I have had some good lattes in Korea, where you can still taste the coffee through the milk. The beans should always be the hero.

I'm glad I checked this cafe out and while they seem to be doing enough to keep a name for themselves, there are plenty of better places to spend your 5,000 Won. I would say that it is a notch above the generic franchises like Starbucks, Caffe Bene, Hollys Coffee, but I would still prefer Paul Bassett. To put that into context, if I was walking to Terarosa Coffee but then happened to see a Paul Bassett on the way, I would definitely end up in the Paul Bassett. Very specific scenario I know, but I hope you kind of get where it ranks. (I might try and cover Paul Bassett in another post sometime but for a growing franchise they are doing a really good job in capturing a large coffee following.) So that's it for my first somewhat negative review of a cafe, but check out my other posts for better coffee!

More information on their locations and hours can be found here: www.terarosa.com/

 

Cafe Review: Peer Coffee Roaster

Today's post will be short and sweet. Just the way some people like their coffee.
I have only been to Peer Coffee Roaster once and got a take out at the time so I can't write too in depth about the experience, but I hope the pictures convince you to visit.


I stumbled across Peer Coffee Roaster while walking through the back alleys of Hannam-Dong. Many times my exploring doesn't result in much success, but this was a great find. I was actually on my way somewhere but I had to stop for some pictures and coffee. It was a hot day so their iced americano really hit the spot. I can't say much about their beans or other drinks but they have a cozy space which was a nice oasis from the heat. I really want to go back again and maybe update this post. From their facebook page it looks like they are starting to sell cartoned cold brew much like Stumptown and Blue Bottle do. I'm curious to see how this sells in Seoul and whether or not it will be the next big thing to hit every cafe in Seoul. The trend seems to be that once something is popular at one cafe, everyone does it. With the beautiful Spring weather right around the corner there's no better time for cold brew than now.

(Note: It was a real struggle not to insert any "peer" puns into this post.)

More information on their locations and hours can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/peercoffee

 

Cafe Review: Fritz Coffee Company

Fritz Coffee Company offers a whole lot, and will satisfy anyone from a tourist looking for a delightful Korean café to a coffee enthusiast hunting for a good cup in Seoul. Fritz blends the old with the new in both an effortless and impressive way. Upon first glance the details fade into the background of the café but the longer you sit there and take in the sounds, the smells, and the feel, the more you see what makes this café experience so enjoyable. Even seeing people come through the café for a brief rest from the modern world rivals any people watching experience at an airport.

What captivates me about this café is the experience as a whole. Fritz confidently walks the line between modern and traditional. The building, logo, packaging and even the furniture all point to a time before but they deliver everything any great modern café would. Each time you notice something different that shapes your time there. Both times I visited I walked out happy with the coffee and my whole experience. It’s like drinking coffee on a sunny, spring day or a gloomy, rainy one. Both are great for different reasons.

Both times I visited, I was greeted by friendly staff who recommended certain beans and blends. Although I normally make it a point to get a latte wherever I go, the baristas convinced me to try their hand drip so that's what I went with. They usually have a selection of beans that are in season and they talked me through various tasting notes. I was quite impressed with their knowledge but since I’m not an expert, I nodded along pretending to know what was going on. At any rate I ended up with some good hand drip coffee. The only thing I was disappointed with was the super flowery mug. If you order an iced drink, you get it in a cool metal cup. But I hardly ever order iced drinks, not even in the summer.

As I write this post, I am getting really annoyed that I didn’t try their latte. I guess I will have to visit them again soon. It is a little out of the way to get to (Mapo Station), since I don’t usually visit that area, but my desire to try their latte is definitely over riding those thoughts. Their coffee wasn’t mind blowing, but it was good enough and coupled with the atmosphere I would definitely say it’s worth a visit. I would recommend this café to anyone but I think it would be a perfect experience for someone passing through Seoul looking for some good coffee and a traditional feel.

More information on their locations and hours can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/fritzcoffeecompany

Additional background information on Fritz Coffee Company: http://www.timeout.com/seoul/restaurants/fritz

 


Caffeinated Explorations 2016: I promise to drink more coffee

Let's start this off with a "Happy New Year!" and maybe at the same time a "Why haven't you posted anything in over half a year, what's wrong with you?". Both would be fitting statements to anybody remotely following this blog. It is indeed a new year and by checking my last post, I see that I haven't posted in about 6 months. I accept both of these statements.

So as we enter this new year with fresh ambitions and improbable resolutions, I hope to be posting more about coffee. I will turn over a new leaf... or should I say coffee leaf? My new years resolution will be to drink more coffee which sounds like a fun resolution except that I work 6 days a week, making it a little hard to find time. This means finding free time to go out into the jungle that is Seoul and start drinking more coffee. This is a challenge I accept and definitely falls into the category of "first world problems" so I really can't complain. My goal other than to drink excessive amounts of coffee is still to sift through the millions of cafes in Seoul so that you don't have to.

On a side note, "Caffeinated Explorations 2016" sounds like the title of a bad sci-fi movie that I certainly would not pay to watch. If I was bored on the weekend and it came on while flipping through channels, I might watch it. But still I probably wouldn't.

So there you have it, as this post indicates there should be more coffee related posts coming soon. I am open to any cafe recommendations or content you would like to see on this blog. Message me if you have any ideas!

So here's to the year 2016: the year of the monkey and coffee

Cafe Review: Steamers Coffee Factory

Steamers Coffee Factory is the type of cafe I'm always looking for. Great atmosphere, friendly & knowledgeable baristas, delicious coffee and perfectly roasted beans. Many cafes have a few of these components but its hard to find all four. A cafe that can deliver in all four of these areas will keep me going back.

I find that the area most cafes have difficulty with is perfectly roasted beans. Even cafes that have a roasting machine or a roasting room can struggle with this. What people have come to believe is that any place that roasts their own beans must serve good coffee, but this isn't necessarily true. One of the problems is that the standard for coffee in Seoul has been set by many of the franchise coffee shops. The high cost of coffee as well as the darker roast has been made acceptable by these franchises which in turn puts pressure on the independent cafes. Its hard to promote good coffee when Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Ediya, Tom N Toms, Hollys all serve the same slightly burnt tasting coffee. Since places like Starbucks generally go for a dark, almost burnt roast, people have come to expect that from their coffee.

There isn't anything bad about a dark roast but when beans get a little burnt, the true flavors are masked. Good coffee beans tend to be roasted a bit lighter and this also shows the roaster's skill in knowing when to bring the best flavors out of the beans. I am beginning to approach pretentious territory here and although I'm not a coffee expert I know that coffee beans have different flavors and levels of acidity that can change the drinking experience. If you usually find yourself in franchise cafes I would encourage you to go to a local roaster or cafe for a new coffee experience.

All this to say that Steamers Coffee Factory roast their own beans and they are very good. They are a little hard to find information on but based on the coffee I have tried there and the beans I have bought from them, they really know what they are doing. I bought a bag of Guatemala verde azul and it completely blew me away. This is the first time I have been so impressed with the flavor and sweetness packed into a bag of locally roasted beans in Seoul. I've been using their beans in my aeropress this past week and the results have been tremendous.

In addition to their beans, the coffee, atmosphere and friendly baristas really make the experience complete. This is another cafe where buying a bag of beans gets you a free coffee. I would definitely recommend doing that. Check them out if you are in the Sinsa area. They roast great beans and let the coffee do the talking.