today marks the 1 year anniversary of CaféSeaSeo! thanks to all who have visited, stumbled upon, or followed this blog. it’s much appreciated! 🙂 and ^^
so, for a 1 year anniversary posting, i’ll write about another favorite place. here we go!
browny 70! Yes, “browny” with a “y” (and a lowercase “b” 😉 ). And it has nothing to do with the famous Korean stuffed husky that all the kids love. No, this café predates the Browny/Brownie the dog fad. And as for 70… I don’t know why. Yes, it’s a curious name, but it’s a great place!
Being close to my friend’s apartment in Suji… oh, wait. I said exactly the same thing about Zoo Coffee. Yes, browny 70 is very close to the first Zoo Coffee I went to. It’s in a little neighborhood shopping center / gathering place called the Daypark, in Seongbok-dong in Suji, the almost-Bundang district in northern Yongin.
When my friend and I first went to Zoo Coffee nearby and decided to make it our hangout place, I don’t think browny 70 had opened up yet. Either that or we just didn’t know about it. Even though I was going to his neighborhood fairly often, we didn’t go to browny 70 until the summer of 2010. But when we did, we were immediately impressed. Good coffee drinks. My friend particularly like the Americanos there. Really good desserts, and a varied bread selection too. Compact, but nice open layout. A friendly owner who was often behind the counter helping out. And thanks to its being open 24 hours a day and its many neighborhood fans, it has a really nice ambiance too: the warm buzz of conversation in a comfortable setting.
So let’s see… oddly enough, all my 2010 pictures were of the food there! For example…
(Remember to click or touch to enlarge both my small and large pictures!)
Oddly, one of my first times at browny 70, I had a patbingsu but didn’t take a picture of it. Oh well. Unfortunately, this was one of my few disappointments there. I noted that it wasn’t that great. But, in browny 70’s defense, my experience with patbingsus in Korea are hit or miss. In my opinion, patbingsu tends to be either really amazing or not that great. Not sure why this signature Korean summer dessert always goes one way or the other. But that’s the way it is.
Right after Chuseok, the harvest festival, my friend and I went to browny 70 again and found that they had opened up a new section. It was a cool new lounge area branching off the main sections. It had a decidedly different decor (lounge decor?) and was a mezzanine between the 1st and 2nd floors.
In 2011 I smartened up and started taking coffee pictures:
Don’t they look delicious? They certainly were! Sorry if I’m making you jealous… I’m just here to inform you!
While at browny 70 in late April, I installed the Photosynth app for my iPhone, and then promptly made my first photosynth panorama be of browny 70! Not sure if the Photosynth embed code will work, but…
Here is my iPhone’s picture version of the photosynth:
So with the photosynth you can get better idea of the layout at browny 70. The café has 3 floors plus a mezzanine, for a total of 4 stories in a compact space. The 3rd floor is kinda hidden in plain view, it’s almost like another mezzanine floating over everything.
Here are a few more pictures from 2011:
And, from 2012:
Um, yeah, about that last picture. No, they don’t sell soju at browny 70, or most cafés for that matter. But I was about to leave Korea and had some extra soju in my refrigerator. And since I don’t like to drink alone, I brought it to share with my friend. And to give the delicious latte or coffee an extra kick! Yeah, alcohol and coffee do mix well! Soju and coffee? Yeah, that too! 😉 So I took out the soju, took the picture, made my special concoction, and promptly hid the bottle again.
Late in 2012 I came back to Korea for a visit. At this time I found out that Browny 70 had opened a second location while I was away! This time in Seoul, in the Gangnam area, just outside the just-opened Seonjeongneung station on the northern extension of the Bundang Line.
I went there on a Sunday with my Suji friend, and we found it to be… almost empty. The complete opposite of the Suji location. Actually, the whole surrounding neighborhood felt pretty empty that day. Perhaps Sunday was not a good day to visit this neighborhood. Anyway, the interior was pleasant enough, but not as cozy as the original location. It even had a replica of the wooden tree sculpture that climbs through the Suji branch. And of course, the coffee was good.
I mentioned to the young barista that we came from Seongbok-dong, the location of the original browny 70. But unfortunately, her young eyes glazed with incomprehension. Seongbok what? You’re talking about someplace outside Seoul?! Maybe it wasn’t that. Maybe it was my admittedly limited Korean. But even when my friend tried to clarify what I meant, she still didn’t know about it. Sigh. As part of your job, you have to know about your business, don’t you? Surely someone must have mentioned to her, yeah, we’re a café from Suji, and this is our first expansion location! Anyway, that’s partly why this blog exists, to connect the dots for everybody. ^^
I recently posted some thoughts on the expansion of I’m Home as an update to the original posting, so please check that out. Browny 70 has more of a community feel than I’m Home does, so I’m a bit more supportive of their expansion, as long as it’s controlled and planned well.
A little side note, if you will. It’s kind of curious actually. browny 70 has its origin in the “Daypark” in Suji. Less than a minute’s walk away, also in the Daypark, is a kkanbu chicken (깐부치킨). This is a popular fried chicken chain that has locations all around Seoul and Gyeonggi-do. Guess what? The Seongbok-dong Daypark location is also the original. And not only that, but they have a kkanbu 1.5 concept store steps away too. So it’s pretty cool that two cool franchises have their start in this little neighborhood gathering place.
Anyway, two days later I returned to regular, familiar, pleasant original Browny 70.
Ah yes, they have delicious sandwiches too! I rarely get them, but they’re nice on occasion.
I returned to Seattle soon after but finally came back with a new job in late February 2013. So, the first picture I took upon returning? ^^
There is more focus on the snow there than the iced latte. But a minute later, I got the latte in focus:
Yeah, I had an iced latte in February. That would be because of a small… well, sometimes big… complaint. Not just at Browny 70 but in many other cafés, and especially the Seoul area buses too. It’s TOO HOT inside in the winter! You see, winter is very cold in Korea. When it’s cold, you dress warmly, right? And you keep it warm inside, but since you’re wearing warm clothes, you don’t keep it too warm. 65-68 °F (18-20 °C) is about right, especially in a café with many people whose bodies are helping to warm the place up. But at Browny 70 on this day in February, and on many winter days, they put the heater on FULL BLAST, making the temperature around 80°F (27 °C) or so, and possibly higher. So I found myself suffocating, rolling up my sweater’s sleeves, and going outside every few minutes to cool down. Yes, it was that bad. It wasn’t a café, it was a jjimjilcafé! The unfortunate combination of a jjimjilbang and a café. And the buses, I always have to call them jjimjilbuses in the winter too. Sigh.
(Can you imagine what happens in many cafés in the hot Korea summer? Yup, air conditioners on ULTRA FULL BLAST! Making it freezing, making me shiver. Sigh.).
But still, of course, I return to this, one of my favorite cafés. Like a month later…
Ah yes, their cakes. They have delicious, amazing cakes. Almost on the level of I’m Home. A few times, I or my friend had ordered a cake for some celebration or other, to universal acclaim. It’s a pity I never got a picture of one until this year.
About 10 days later, I returned for another sandwich:
And less than 12 hours later, the next morning, I was happy to return again:
Browny 70, somewhat rare for Suji, is open 24 hours, and is often full 24 hours! Well, no, I haven’t been there at 4am to check this. But late into the night, and after midnight, it will often be full. So it’s a nice place to do late night work. Much better than home alone. And really nice for a late night conversation.
A Caffé Bene opened right next to it, in 2011 I think, when its popularity was rising and it was multiplying like bunnies. I guess they thought they would steal customers from browny 70. This Caffé Bene is visible across the parking lot entrance. But if you look through the windows, it is often empty compared to browny 70! The neighborhood has made its decision! Long live browny 70! No to cockroach cafés!
browny 70 will eventually get a little boost from the subway system. In 2016, it will be metro-accessible with the extension of the Sinbundang Line to Suwon, with a stop at Suji right outside browny 70! The construction has already affected the street for over a year now. It will be that much more convenient to visit from wherever I’m living at the time.
browny 70 is a wonderful place for people-watching. Couples laugh and draw pictures of each other there. Couples cry there. Couples have their first shy conversations there. Families bring their kids to relax. Ahjusshis and ahjummas come to talk. Young 20-somethings come to work or study. 24 hours a day. Combined with a great ambience, great coffee, and great desserts and bread, I can definitely recommend it to you. Except on a frigid day in winter, unless you come prepared with a t-shirt. 😉
Here’s a link to a Google Map to find browny 70.
And, here’s a link to browny 70 2.
(mini-update!: now that i’m adding websites to each page, i see that browny 70 actually has quite a few locations now! not just the 2 that i’ve written about. check their locations page for details.)
Final verdict: *****
[May 2017 VIDEO UPDATE!
As I’ve now created a YouTube account specifically for CaféSeaSeo videos, I can now link to a video I recorded one night at the original browny 70 in April 2011:]
May 2017 PICTURE UPDATE
Wow! A lot has happened in the world of browny 70 since 2013. Expansion to fancy locales, new drinks, and a modest expansion to my current city, Namyangju. Let’s take a look at some of the changes, and some of the constant things.
In early 2016, I started working at a school in the suburb city of Namyangju, in a neighborhood with few cafés, few late-night coffee options, and far far away from Suji. If you drive about 10-15 minutes west of my new neighborhood, Maseok, you reach Pyeongnae-Hopyeong, one of the few areas to have “-dong” (dense neighborhood) status in Namyangju. One night in August 2016, at the far northern edge of Pyeongnae-Hopyeong, right at the entrance to the Cheonmasan hiking trail, I was shocked to find a browny 70! They had made it all the way out here! From Suji to Seoul to Namyangju. Scroll a few more pictures down and I’ll have some more to say about Namyangju…
On a weekend in October 2016, I really wanted some coffee. Maybe more than usual? I don’t know lol. But back in August, around the same time I had discovered the Pyeongnae-Hopyeong browny 70, I had also read a fellow blogger’s post about teaching in Namyangju, and eating a patbingsu in… browny 70!!! But it wasn’t Pyeongnae-Hopyeong… it was a place called Jinjeop-eup, where “-eup” is a district in a low-density area, the equivalent of a “-gu” in a denser city. So I looked it up, and I found that there was yet another browny 70 in Namyangju, in a place called Deokso-ri, in Wabu-eup, very close to the Hangang. (Here, “-ri” signifies rural neighborhood, although there is nothing rural about Deokso!). Wow, two unknown browny 70s in my city? It was time for a browny 70 tour!
Well, the Namyangju browny 70s have a similar style, but different personality that the Suji ones. None of the Namyangju branches are open 24 hours. Actually, the Pyeongnae-Hopyeong one is often quite empty. The Jinjeop-eup branch seems to have the most bustling atmosphere.
And over the years, browny 70 has expanded their locations and their menu, but the quality remains the same. I’m still happy to visit almost any branch whenever possible.