In Seoul, there is no shortage of coffee shops. Infact, Seoul is probably oversaturated with big chain establishments and also small neighborhood cafes at every alley and street corner. With so much competition, the turnover rate is high and unless you’re a big franchise, an independent cafe really needs some kind of je ne sais quoi to be able to make it. Sadly, most provide just mediocre coffee, often disguised with flavored syrups and whipped cream. However, if you’re a coffee lover of any kind living here, I think it’s absolutely essential that you visit Coffee Libre. They are probably the top independent roasters here and are involved in basically every coffee-related event in Korea. Even champion baristas have used their beans so you can bet that their coffee is good. It was a real honor for me to be in the Window Bakery Collection with them in December because they are such a cool company composed of great people. I have no doubt that it’s the delicious coffee and also the personalities behind the counter that make Coffee Libre so special.
They have a separate roastery and head office in a different building, but this is their cozy cafe. This space used to be an old herbal medicine shop, and there is still evidence of its run-down past such as the huge apothecary chest on one side and the raw cement walls. It’s literally like a hole in the wall but people will go out of their way to seek this cafe out. It’s full of down-to-earth charm and you can tell there is so much love for coffee here. The only downside is that the space is tiny so it’s got very limited seating and you may just have to enjoy your coffee on-the-go, but it’s still worth the visit~
You may think it’s weird being surrounded by traditional apothecary drawers and sipping on coffee while listening to chill indie music playing in the background, but somehow it all works. It’s just a feel-good place.
The owner and master in chief is so nice and always amazes me with his generosity. He’s been working in the coffee world for over eight years now, and he knows all the ins and outs of sourcing beans, roasting, and brewing. He’s also good at English, so you can chat with him and ask him a bunch of questions.
The people here are also really knowledgeable about aeropress and they will also make a cuppa aeropress coffee for you right there if you ask. I actually bought an aeropress coffee maker there, for my dad’s birthday present. As soon as my dad opened it, we used it to make a cuppa espresso and it was dayam good. I hope to one day get my own! They’re so brilliant.
All beans are freshly ground for every single cup of coffee so that you get the most flavor and aroma possible. They don’t have soy milk on the menu but if you take a carton of your own soy milk they will gladly make a soy latte for you. I just showed up and handed him my own soy milk. “Make me a soy latte pweeeze~~~^^ “
Coffee Libre (cafe side)
Hongik Univ Station. Exit 3. Walk out the exit and turn toward the main road. Start walking along the main road, away from the station and Hongdae. Pass the 3-way intersection and stay on the sidewalk as it veers left. About 5-7 minutes after the big intersection, turn left into a small alley, immediately before a bakery with an orange storefront (right before the next street intersection). Coffee Libre will be a few buildings down the alleyway, on your right. About a 10-15 minute walk from station.
서울시 마포구 연남동 227-15
T +82 2 334 0615
Café Libre, 227-15 Yeonnam, Mapo, Seoul
T +82 2 334 0615