There are over 18,000 cafes in Seoul, exceeding all cafes in New York City and Seattle combined. The majority of noteworthy cafes are located in tourist hubs such as Gangnam and Hongdae. However, Songpa, Gangnam’s quieter, more residential sister, has its own collection of impressive cafes for coffee lovers. Songpa’s cafes are a reflection of the neighborhood itself, well heeled and trendy. There’s one, sometimes more, on every corner and like a phoenix, cafes close down and spring back to life almost instantaneously. If you plan on enjoying cafes in Songpa, or anywhere else in Seoul, it’s important to keep a few cafe norms in mind that might be unfamiliar to a nonlocal.
Cafe’s are seldom open early unless they’re a major chain. You’re better off finding your morning coffee at Starbucks, Holly’s, and even bakery hybrids like Tous les Jours or Paris Baguette. Additionally, local places don’t keep a strict timetable. Some may open a bit later and close earlier than advertised. However, Seoul’s true charm is apparent in its local cafes and if you can be flexible with your time then it’s well worth the coordination.
Coffee culture here dictates that coffee is a nighttime affair. It’s common to see Seoulite’s with iced lattes in hand or packed into cafes sipping cappuccinos at 10:00 at night. It seems that coffee in Seoul spurns wonderful conversation. Cafes offer the perfect opportunity for young adults, who usually still live with their parents in small apartments, to date and meet up with friends.
Aesthetic is king
Coffee is presumably the most important aspect of a cafe but aesthetic is a strong contender for first place. Most cafes sport trendy interiors and instagrammable drinks. It’s not uncommon to see people laboriously documenting their drinks before taking an initial sip. Typically, the trendier a cafe is the more people it packs on the weekends. But don’t be fooled, just because a cafe looks nice doesn’t mean its coffee is superior.
Latte doesn’t mean caffeine
Be warned, ordering lattes here are a mindful process. Surprisingly, not all lattes come with shots of espresso. This is especially true for more adventurous flavors such as black sesame, sweet potato, and strawberry. When ordering an unusual latte the workers might ask if you want coffee and if not, don’t hesitate to ask.
For here or to go
Due to a law imposed in early 2018, cafes are banned from serving costumers with plastic cups if they’re not taking their drink to go. If you buy a drink in a plastic cup but decide to sit in, you might be asked to leave. If you get a drink and later decide to leave, you can ask the cafe to pour your drink into a plastic to go cup.
If you’re in Songpa as an expat or a tourist visiting Lotte World or Olympic Park, make a point to relate to a local. Here are ten notable cafes to visit in Songpa-gu, Seoul.
1. Wicker Park
Address: 58-1, Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
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Time: 12:00 - 22:00
Wicker Park is to the city what a cottage is to a forest. A little coffee shop tucked into the corner of a busy street with an excellent cappuccino. It has a sleek, modern aesthetic encased in large bushes and crawling vines. It’s an excellent place to decompress after a shopping trip at Lotte Mall. Not only is the coffee worth the stop but the s’mores are highly recommended.
2. Lala Bread
Address: 4 Ogeum-ro 16-gil, Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 송파구 오금로16길 4
Time: 10:00 - 22:00
A trendy cafe in Jamsil that’s expanded into other neighborhoods in Seoul. If the expansion wasn’t any indication of its popularity, it consists of three stories that are all packed on weekends. Good coffee isn’t the only thing enticing the weekend crowds. Lala bread has a full blown menu as well as a multitude of baked goods made fresh daily. The food is a blend of americano and Korean implementing ingredients such as prosciutto, olives and arugula. They serve a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and salads. It’s definitely worth a try if you want a brief break from more traditional Korean food. The bottom most floor is a basement with a multitude of toasters you can for use for any bread you buy and the top floor contains an art gallery.
3. Peach Gray
Address: 94, Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 1F
서울특별시 송파구 백제고분로42길 32 1F
Time: 11:00 - 21:00
A cafe for the artistically inclined in the Garak neighborhood of Songpa. Peach Gray is on a quiet, residential street off of the main road. Drinks and food bring you a paintbrush, palette and water color paper which you can replenish for 750 won. The atmosphere is relaxing and casual. Natural light floods the interior as soft music plays in the background. It’s the perfect place to unwind from the bustle of the weekend. The watercolor isn’t the only draw. The drinks are some of the best in Songpa, with the hazelnut latte being particularly notable. Make sure you come early to nab a seat!
4. Bjorklands Kafferosteri
Address: 45-18, Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
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Time: 12:00 - 22:00
A Swedish coffee chain started by Johan Bjorkland in an attempt to revive lost coffee culture in Vasteras, Bjorkland’s home city. Tucked into a quiet street past Seokchon station, Bjorklands is a treehouse in spirit, entirely made of wood with wide open windows and large trees surrounding its perimeter. The perfect place to relax with a book or journal, it stokes the care free spirit of the inner child. A Sweden Sweet Latte is the perfect companion for a day at this cafe.
Address: 6-14, Seokchon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
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Time: 12:00 - 22:00
A posh neighborhood staple, known for its soufflé pancakes. Upon first glance, Sarr is a mid-century cafe with a Parisian flair. However, a few sips into your latte and it’s the coziest, home like cafe on the list. The owners are friendly and kind. Their close relationship with the patrons filing in is a testament to their good nature and actual goods. A great place to work or people watch. Pair their cream latte with their matcha pancakes and a good book for a cozy day.
6. Workers Coffee
Address: 153-5, Seokchon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 동경빌딩 1F
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Time: Mon-Sat 10:00-21:00
A black hole of good coffee and comfy atmosphere. Workers coffee is unassuming from the outside. One might assume its not even open. Take a step in, however, and its a dimly lit oasis with a wide view of the city outside. If other coffee shops serve dessert under the guise of coffee, workers serves an honest cup. Their coffee is strong and if you’re over soufflé pancakes, they have wonderful Belgian waffles. Pair one with their salt caramel latte.
Address: 4 Baekjegobun-ro 37-gil, Seokchon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
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A newer cafe near Seokchon station with abundant seating, an important factor when considering how packed cafes are on weekends in Seoul. They sell freshly baked bread and are open early making them the perfect place for a quick breakfast. Their selection varies from rosemary focaccia with tomato and goat cheese to cranberry apple buns and chestnut taro bread, to name a few. Their coffee is smooth and the atmosphere is bright and relaxed. Grab a bite to eat with their black sesame latte, truly the best among all other cafes.
8. February Roasters
Address: 51-7, Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
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Time: 10:00 - 22:00
Cool and trendy. Think well dressed clientele and marble counter tops. Not as warm as other places but a good starting point for a night out, a date, or a work meeting. The coffee is so strong it’ll give you a good punch to start the day. Try the December latte for a wake up call and watch the baristas go to work in front of you. You can also buy their beans to take home or take one of their cute stickers for free!
9. 뜬금 커피 (ddngm coffee)
Address: 6, Seokchonhosu-ro 18-gil, Songpa-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 송파구 삼전동 92-4
Time: 12:00 - 21:00 (closed Mondays)
An easy to miss, quiet cafe perched on the second floor of an unassuming building. The open space breathes through wide windows overlooking the street below. The menu has the usual suspects as well as a must try creamy hot chocolate, perfect for the cooler seasons. It’s location and charm is quintessentially Songpa. Grab a seat by the window to watch the passerby's below or observe the cafes regulars pour in with their immaculately groomed small dogs.
Address: 246-28, Seokchon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 1F
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Time: Mon - Fri: 9:00-23:00
Sat: 10:00 - 23:00
Sun 10:00 - 22:00
Hano is the building block of its surrounding neighborhood, used for friendly meet ups, workplace gatherings or dates. It’s right beside the entrance of the Seokchon-dong Ancient Tombs which doubles as a large park well used by the neighborhood. This ensures that Hano sees heavy foot traffic throughout the week. Their menu is extensive, ranging from lattes to juices and smoothies. They have a variation of desserts to choose from as well as bagels for the mornings. However, their green tea latte is hands down the best in Songpa which makes it worth the trip for that alone.