Travel

Tapioca Balls, Sweet Potato Lattes, and Other Korean Coffee Shop Delights

We think we know how to coffee shop it up in the US, but a quick trip to Korea blew that idea out of the water for me. Coffee culture back in Florida is dominated by the drive thru, straw controversy, and demon customers in front of you in line that always have to send their drinks back to be remade. Korea, on the other hand, serves up delightful details that make you want to linger forever with your drink because life is perfect in those coffee shop moments. No one here is secretly wishing to have caffeine injected strait into their veins; they are enjoying the cute simplicity of a tasty coffee, sweet cake, and good company. Here are some of my favorite coffee places in Pyeongtaek (although there are only 10,000 more I haven’t tried yet).

A Twosome Place

Drinking coffee on the ground floor is boring. It’s tastes better on the 5th floor of a coffee tower! When I rode past A Twosome Place on my way from Incheon airport, I knew this coffee shop would be high up (pun intended) on my list of places to visit. Just look at it!

A Twosome Place in Pyeongtaek

I just love that you have to climb a dangerous spiral staircase to get to the coffee counter here. The shop is at the top. You can take the elevator to the 3rd floor, but you have to climb the rest of the way. I’m not really sure why the elevator doesn’t go all the way up, but we’ll just chock it up to being in a foreign country. Each floor’s landing has a bathroom. There are a lot of bathrooms. Four floors of bathrooms. At least. Coffee is diuretic, so I guess this makes sense.

3rd Floor Bathroom!

Ok, so the stairs and the multitude of bathrooms at different elevations aren’t actually what make this place dazzling. First of all, let me say this: Koreans are so polite. I love ordering things at coffee shops because I love the interactions. The little head bows, the handing of the receipt with both hands. This stuff actually makes me feel really warm. Then, you get your order and it’s full of these little details that you just don’t expect because it would not be cost effective for your typical American coffee shop.

Absolutely delicious “Ice Box Cake” with the cutest tiny, chocolate “Twosome” sign.

Everything comes on real dishes and in real glasses. Coffee is so much better out of a mug than a paper cup. Cake on a plate with a real fork is so better than a stale cinnamon bun smashed into a to-go bag. Iced coffee and tea was meant to be sipped from glass, not plastic. In fact, the only two disposable things are the optional straws and the napkins. It is assumed that you are eating in, too. People aren’t taking caffeine shots to-go. They are just enjoying this stuff. It’s so nice! And I bet they are consuming far less plastic than your typical American coffee shop, even though they haven’t phased out their straws.

Bubble Milk Tea

Plus, you kind of need a huge straw for the bubble tea thing to work properly. I absolutely LOVE milk tea, but I admittedly have a hard time with the “bubbles” or boba. I don’t mind the flavor of the tapioca balls, but it bothers me that I can’t chew them. I just imagine them sitting in a pile in my stomach. My mom told me a story about a girl in China that ate so many tapioca balls that she had to go to the hospital because she couldn’t digest 27 pounds of them. I have not fact checked that story, but I’m ok just accepting it as true. Then, my dad said my bubble tea looked “like a frog took a dump in it.” It doesn’t look like frog poop; it looks like frog eggs. Big difference there, Dad.

Dewdrop

Dew you want to drop in? Yes, yes you do because this place has a very sweet, flowery aesthetic that will make you feel like a little girl prancing through a field of flowers dreaming about your wedding day.

On Dewdrop’s menu, there are several options of “bread”, like Honey Bread, Nutella Bread, or Caramel Bread, which is really just a huge three dimensional bread block filled with magical goodness. My super adorable, lovely, amazing, smart, and sweet little sister* ordered her favorite kind: Honey Bread, which is topped with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and honey. Not only does Dewdrop specialize in cute bread desserts, they also make some really sweet drinks, like Java Chip Frappes and Caramel Macchiatos that come on cute little doilies. The atmosphere is absolutely perfect: large windows, hanging plants, aesthetically pleasing color schemes, and quiet R&B playing in the background while you enjoy a tall glass of coffee and fancy Honey Bread.

In additional to the over-the-top, hand-crafted, adorable menu items, you can also partake in a simple espresso shot served up in an adorable, tiny mug.

Cafe Timeless

I can see this coffee shop from my bedroom window, but it took me some time to actually get up and run across the street in front of taxis and speeding construction trucks to try it because its storefront is so unassuming.

Cafe Timeless

But, once inside, I found a sweet little haven just steps from our front door.

A cute tree filled with personal notes from coffee lovers.

My sister and I decided we would try some new things, so we ordered a sweet potato latte and a lavender tea. They were all out of “Falling in Love” tea, so lavender was the default option. The lady serving us seemed like the shop owner, and just couldn’t have been any sweeter. I can’t believe what a cute coffee shop has been hiding across the street all this time.

Lavender Tea and a Sweet Potato Latte

The lovely shop owner whipped up our drinks and brought them to us on a cute little tray. My sister was a bit disappointed that the lavender tea wasn’t purple, but sometimes you just have to deal with clear tea in life. The sweet potato latte was much better than I imagined it would be. It tasted like pumpkin pie without cinnamon. Quite drinkable, really. The lavender tea tasted like my daughter’s Johnson & Johnson lavender sleepy time bubble bath with ice cubes in it. There was no hint of lavender- it was more of a punch in the face of lavender. Nevertheless, there are many more non-soap flavored teas on the menu, so the bubble bath drink doesn’t disqualify this place as a good coffee shop.

*This portion was written by my little sister, Audrey, about herself.

**Also, according to my little sister, Seoul’s coffee shops put these ones to shame.

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