Before I continue with my caffeinated experiences that started in 2010, I’m actually gonna go wayyy back to 2003! You see, I actually visited Korea for the first time in 2003, for about 10 days in October. Back then, the Korean coffee boom was in its infancy as compared to 2010 through today. I don’t remember going out for coffee much, but I do remember going to both Starbucks and The Coffee Bean in Apgujeong (central southern Seoul). As a Seattleite, I was happy to see Starbucks there, but The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was new to me, so I thought it was a native Korean chain. I went with friends and had a pleasant time there. And since I was taking pictures on film, I wasn’t taking nearly as many as I do now, so I didn’t record my drink for posterity. Just a picture with my friends, which is the most important thing. 🙂
But, I of course remembered it and went back from time to time starting in 2010. It was the chain that had been there a long time compared to all the new chains and independent shops that awaited me in the new decade. And somehow, Coffee Beans were kind of in the background… visible, but not prominent like other chains. It’s a place you don’t mind going to, but don’t really seek out. Sometimes you’ll have an average drink there, and occasionally you’ll find a very nice surprise. Here was one of the nice surprises I found this year, on a cold winter day in Myeongdong (a shopping district in central Seoul):
It’s a tasty Moroccan Mint Latte. This became my standard drink whenever I happened to drop into the Korean chain thereafter.
Oh wait. Guess what? I found out in 2011 that The Coffee Bean is actually a US chain! It was one of those chains that hasn’t dared to try to open a store in the Pacific Northwest, the land of Starbucks. It’s based in Los Angeles, and has been around since 1963 (according to Wikipedia)! Good job on claiming an early foothold in Korea.
And then, now in 2012, just a few weeks after returning to Seattle, I saw this:
I literally did a double-take when I saw this. Seeing this, it felt like a little bit of Korea in Seattle. No, there are no stores yet, only beans in some supermarkets. But it’s a start.
Here, then, are the rest of my Coffee Bean related pictures. There’s not that many since it’s a regular place, a long-time presence.
2013 PICTURE UPDATE
Final verdict: ***