The New Year 2011 started with a brand new coffee shop for me! After ringing in the new year with friends at a bus stop near Myeongdong (long but fun story) and then heading to a very cold DVD bang in Hyehwa to pass the time, we decided to go to a café while we waited for the metro and bus system to open again. We somehow decided upon a place with a funny name, Coffine Gurunaru. They have a cute explanation of what they want to be… “a tree and a ferry in a river just like a place to rest”:
Coffine at first glance looks like a mis-spelling of caffeine, but it actually has a different intention. You see, a quick glance at the menu and a little puzzling together makes the meaning of the name quickly evident. Coffine = coffee + wine. What a great pairing! But it was New Year’s Day. I didn’t want coffee, even though it was 4:30am. I wanted to celebrate!
Cake and wine with friends, a great way to start the year. And, you might have noticed, the cake was chocolate. A really good chocolate cake… a really happy Caféseaseo author. 😉 And the wine was a cabernet sauvignon. A great pairing with dark chocolate.
So, I left with a good impression of the café with the funny name. But what about that second part, Gurunaru? Well, a friend explained it to me once… but I forgot exactly. Should’ve written it down! I just remember that it had something to do with pure Korean, uninfluenced by Chinese or Chinese characters. Maybe something about a tree by a river? If I find out again I’ll update this posting with the correct information.
I went to Gurunaru a few more times in 2011. On Black Day I was feeling a little lonely so stopped at the Jamsil branch for a slice of that delicious cake. Upstairs I found a nice reclined seat which looked out the window, and I think was meant for couples. This location has a great view of the Lotte World lake and park, so it’s a great place to watch life go by. The cherry trees were bloom so I had spent some time admiring them before stopping at the café. So here’s that delicious cake and part of the view:
Coffine Gurunaru is one of those medium-sized chains in Korea, so you’ll find them here and there. I had coffee and tea during different visits, and no complaints. Eventually, I found a large branch in Hongdae, and I took a Photosynth from its rooftop deck:
You might have noticed the purple in two pictures by now. Purple is their signature color, and it stands out among cafés in Korea. It’s rich and they combine it with light woods.
During the hot summer, I stopped at the Hongdae branch again. This time, I noted the coffee that I ordered, a delicious green mint mocha.
But I had hardly sat down at a window seat facing across the street when a big commotion started to occur down there…
Apparently the naengmyeon restaurant across the street is famous, but that wasn’t it. No, the commotion was centered on the ice cream stand! Click to enlarge if you didn’t already. Fortunately, I had my real camera with me, so I could zoom in for a closer look:
It was a drama! This wasn’t the first time I had run into the filming of a movie or drama, and it wasn’t the last either. I can think of 5 instances where I ran into filming, actually. There might be a lot of people in Seoul, but at the same time, Korea is a small country, and when you’re going to film on location, lots of people are going to see it! And with such an active film industry in Korea, and most everything filmed in Seoul, you have a much higher chance of running into something unexpected on a random day. I didn’t find out what drama this was for a few weeks, when somebody finally figured it out for me. It was the MBC drama 불굴의며느리, or Indomitable Daughter-in-law, which was mildly popular at the time. Here, if it works for me and for you, is the video I took:
Hmmm, that didn’t work out for me, sorry! Looks like I need to pay to add videos. 😉
[May 2017 VIDEO UPDATE!
Hi everyone! As I just mentioned in my newest entry, I’ve created a new YouTube account to be able to add short videos related to this blog. So, finally, after four years since writing this blog post, and after six years since filming the video, I can add the missing video to this entry. Here you go!:
Back to the original post from 2013:]
I went for a walk around the Lotte World lake again a month later. And with a craving for cake, I walked into Gurunaru again. But sadly, they had no cake this time. I made do with a small cupcake in a cup. Not at all what I wanted, but small consolation.
I went to Coffine Gurunaru a few more times for coffee or tea, but never found the cake again. Sigh. But still, they have good coffee, and wine, and nice locations, so I’m still fond of them.
One other thing about Coffine Gurunaru. There is a connection with another Korean chain, Tom N Toms. From what I was told, the founder of Tom N Toms were a man and his wife. But the man angered the wife somehow, so she divorced him, and in retaliation opened her own coffee chain, Coffine Gurunaru. So they are bitter rivals, and I think sometimes they are near each other. I have visited Tom N Toms with friends who were already there but I never bought anything… nothing seemed appealing. So I think it’s clear who’s side I’m on in the argument. 😉 Okay, someday I will visit Tom N Toms to give it a fair review. Someday.
But for now, good memories and good food and drinks at Coffine Gurunaru gives it a positive review.
Final verdict: ****
“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.”
– Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)