Cafe Guide: Peer, Luft, Anthracite
One of the coolest – and sometimes most overwhelming – things about Seoul is how many cafes there are. Even ignoring the major chains, it sometimes seems like there’s an independent café for every resident of the city, with each having its own style and flair. Each week we take a look at 3 independent cafés in different neighborhoods, to help you out next time you need a place to get some work done, take a date, or just grab a cup of coffee.
1. Peer Coffee Roasters – Hannamdong
피어커피 로스터스 – 한남동
As with most places in Hannamdong, Peer Coffee Roasters is aggressively cool. The space and everything in it is acutely design-conscious, but the employees don’t care about that, or the shop, or you, really. The only thing they care about is the coffee, and this is evidenced by their constant fucking around with bean blends, roasting stuff, god knows what else. In addition to a gorgeously formatted printout menu, there’s a handwritten piece of notepaper that will inform you of the day’s espresso specials, as well as what’s currently brewing. All of Peer’s blends and cold brew concentrates are available in poignantly modern containers, and the coffee cup sleeves are felt, because why not. Needless to say, the coffee will change your perception of roasted beans. It’s all unreal, and from what I understand the baristas regularly participate in roasting competitions, conferences, or whatever else goes on in the hardcore coffee community. The spot itself is small, and the almost frustratingly-dope seating is sparse. This is definitely a spot to grab an insane cup of coffee and hit the road. Also, their instagram is, of course, amazing.
2. Luft Coffee – Myungdong
루프트커피 – 명동
If Peer’s meticulously curated aesthetic was for you, but their constrained space wasn’t, we got you. While we generally don’t recommend going to Myungdong for anything, Luft Coffee is genuinely worth checking out. This is a massive, amazingly minimal space where the only thing to offset the stark white walls, light beige floor, and bleacher-like seating is a bunch of trees and a few light blue vases and panels. The tables are long and metal, or small and also metal. Chairs are white and, yes, metal. There’s stepped seats lining the wall if you just want to sit and talk. To complement the bright, sterile interior are huge windows that keep the space bright and airy. The coffee counter is long, white, and has a Luft-branded espresso machine and a row of drip setups. That’s it. If you can find a spot near an outlet, this is a great place to get work done, because there’s basically nothing to distract you from anything. Otherwise, it’s just a cool, giant space to chill in. Come for the coffee, stay for the vibes.
3. Anthracite Coffee Roasters – Hapjung
앤트러사이트 커피 – 합정
The coffee roasting and vibes don’t stop. Anthracite has three locations, including one in Hannamdong and one all the way in Jeju. But their Hapjung location is the most low-key, and a perfect spot to escape the hectic shit that goes on constantly in neighboring Hongdae. Anthracite is a darker, moodier spot, with raw concrete walls and floors and industrial metal tables and chairs. The coffee bar is surprisingly long, made out of salvaged metal and maybe rubber (?), and backed by a row of vertical TV screens playing psychedelic stuff on loop. The spot where they actually roast the coffee is in plain view, only sectioned off by glass panels, so you can watch when they’re working or just peep where your drink came from. The coffee is exceptional, with an emphasis on drip (they have like 10 drip setups rigged up at all times). Hapjung is kind of the neighborhood that’s too cool and quiet for Hongdae, too edgy and brooding for Yeonnamdong. Anthracite pretty much embodies that in coffee shop form.
If you’ve been to any of the spots we listed this week, or think we fucked something up, let us know. For more Seoul cafes, check out last week’s list.
Photo credits: @yjmantan, @peer_coffee_roasters, @luft_coffee, @phyunsuk