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Korea's Caffeine Addiction

There are literally Starbucks on top of another Starbucks if you walk down the wide streets of Seoul, South Korea. Everywhere you look, there seem to be cafes and coffee shops lining the streets. At one particular subway exit, you'll find four different Starbucks on each corner of the intersection! Even on the tiniest corner on a city block, a tiny coffee kiosk is seen nudged in between two larger stores. What is Korea's obsession with coffee?

A Starbucks shop in Seoul, South Korea. Photo via Wikipedia.

Coffee was introduced to Korea during the reign of King Gojong, who is proclaimed to be the first Korean to ever take a sip in 1896 during Russian litigation in Seoul while evading the Japanese Army. Since then, Koreans have been hooked on the caffeinated beverage.

Korean mixed coffee. Photo via The Korean Times.

With the introduction of Starbucks into Korea in 1999, a cultural shift began to happen. Koreans, due to the lack of space in their own personal homes, often had nowhere to meet up with friends for a quick drink and chat. Starbucks changed the cultural paradigm by creating a cozy, clean, and spacious atmosphere for Koreans young and old, a place to hang out. Partnered with 5G speed internet, Starbucks and other coffee chains became the go-to spot for many Koreans taking a quick break from shopping or hanging out with friends.

Korean drama scene at a cafe. Photo via Annyeong Oppa.

Korea's coffee consumption is around 6% of the total Asia Pacific coffee market and is one of the leading markets in the world. You will see custom-blended coffee shops all around Korea, each with their unique taste and make. According to the Korean Economic Institute of America, Koreans drink 12.3 cups of coffee per week! That's equivalent to 2.3 kg (about 5 lbs) per capita consumption a year!

Inside look at one of Korea's trendy cafes. Photo courtesy of There She Goes Again.

If you do plan on visiting Korea, be sure to check out the numerous quirky-themed cafes!

Check out this awesome list of cafes by 'there she goes again'!

If you've been to Korea, what cafes did you like most? What's the craziest cafe you've seen/been in? Share your pics and experiences!


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