sleepless in seattle…

sleepless in seattle

One of many coffee chains here… Also one I haven’t tried, but I love the name. “sleepless in seattle… so in love with espresso.”

As a coffee lover (not to be confused with coffee aficionado), some days I find it difficult to be living in a place where the term “coffee” means “instant, sugar-laden, brown water.” At the advice of a friend who taught in SK, I brought my own electric coffee grinder, French press, and a bag of Starbucks Verona blend beans with me. And about three weeks into this little adventure, those beans ran out. It was a sad morning…

So, you’d think that with this issue of so much “fake” coffee around here, it would be difficult to find it, right? Not so. It’s here, but the crappy stuff is easier to find and less expensive. (This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as this is the case in America, too.) The problem is that when you don’t read Korean, or you can’t actually get a whiff of the enclosed beans in the coffee bag at the supermarket, you’re taking a big, fat gamble as to whether or not you’re purchasing a crappy bag of beans or something that will be enough to get you by.

And even though the culture is still trying to, in my opinion, really understand the concept of making coffee at home and that there’s more to life than a box of the instant junk, pop culture here is OBSESSED with coffee shops. They’re literally on every street corner, stacked one on top of the other, vying for your attention. And, as a coffee lover and a lover of all things coffee-related and/or just adorable or cute, I want to visit ALL OF THEM. Luckily, this task may be impossible. Nay – it IS impossible. So far, I’ve counted eight alone on my walk to school, and I’m sure I’m missing some of them. But, I intend to try most of them, if for nothing more than just the experience of “good coffee” vs. Korean “coffee.”

Now, if you know me, you know that I LOVE Starbucks and in America, I’m one of the “gold card” holders. This means that I spend entirely too much money on Starbucks coffee and that over the course of the year, Starbucks decided I had spent just enough with them to send me my own gold Starbucks card that has my name on it. Oh, and I get the occasional perk for being an “oldie goldie.” The good news is that they DO have Starbucks here, but there isn’t one in my neighborhood. (This is ALSO good news, as I have no businessspending so much of my hard-earned money with them.) However, there IS a Cafe Bene in my neighborhood, which has recently become my Korean replacement for Starbucks. I pay about the same for my drink there, they have free wifi, they serve desert-like waffles and French toast-ish stuff (which is DELICIOUS), and again, it’s freakin’ cute in there. They also have whole beans for sale, but they’re about the equivalent of $16 USD. EXPENSIVE for only about 12 ounces! So, if you’re me, you try to find an alternative…

I bought a couple tiny bags to try some blends that were the “store” brand at my local Emart – much like a Wal-Mart or Target store in America – and they were both unexciting and, well, crappy. Then, I took a leap of faith and bough a BIG bag for about $9. The beans seemed to smell okay through the bag (Learning to actually get a scent through these things, I have learned over the years, is an art form. In Korea, you look like a complete idiot doing it…), so I took the chance. It’s no Starbucks, but it’ll do! And so, I sit now, writing to you with a cup of my Emart-ish coffee by my side. We’re getting along just fine.

The pic above is one of MANY different coffee chains here. I haven’t visited Sleepless in Seattle, but I intend to. :) My other favorite coffee shop names are Angel-in-Us (which I think they were going for “Angelina’s, but didn’t quite get there…), Havana Express, and Holic Holic coffee. HA! Reviews on all to come in the near future.

So, put that in your mug and sip it… Okay, lame, I know. But, here’s to coffee in Korea: learning more about it, finding the best stuff, and taking chances on crappy cups o’ joe.

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