Beansbins (chain, multiple locations)

The next place I’ll review is another place that, like The Coffee Bean, has lots of locations, and therefore visibility, but somehow is just part of the landscape and doesn’t get praised or criticized much. But I quickly became fond of it, I supposed partly because I went there with friends and even met new friends there during the first few times I went there. This place, another Korean chain, is Beansbins. (also stylized as Beans Bins, BeansBins, BEANS BINS, or BEANSBINS).

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The first time I went to Beansbins happened to be on Teacher’s Day 2010, which happened to fall on a Saturday. I went to the Jukjeon café street and saw it there, the first café you approach from the north side (beside Tomo Tome), and decided to try it out and work on my laptop for a while. I had my standard first-time-at-a-café mocha. And then a little later, a few of the younger co-workers at my school joined me there. We had a good time there and chatted and laughed a lot. And, of course, we all drank coffee. So here’s that first mocha:

Mocha at Beans Bins, May 2010
Mocha at Beans Bins, May 2010

Tasty and pretty. Rich and appealing. I approved! And the location was comfortable and had that nice coffee shop buzz. It had a smoking section, but unlike Tomo Tome, it was quite small and narrow, and almost an afterthought. The wi-fi was also pretty good and straightforward. They also had pleasant jazz music playing in the background, but not so loud that it would overwhelm the atmosphere. I knew it would be worth it to go back to Beansbins.

Which I did. Many times, actually. In fact, while I was living in Yongin, it might be the café I went to the most! It had good coffee, was comfortable, almost always had a good crowd, and wasn’t too expensive.

A few months later, after I’d been to this Jukjeon Beansbins a few times, I went there again with a friend. And while I had seen waffles on their menu many times, I had yet to try it. Korea at the time was either starting or in the middle of a waffle craze, so many cafés were highlighting waffles on their menus. Well, they still are. Maybe it’s a never-ending craze. But anyway, on this day in July, I tried a waffle:

Blueberry waffle at Beansbins in Jukjeon, July 2010
Blueberry waffle at Beansbins in Jukjeon, July 2010

I’d say it was average. Definitely better than an Eggo, but not one that made me order it every time. Well, I’m not much of a waffle person anyway.

After a few times going to the Jukjeon Beansbins, and then finally exploring more of Seoul, I discovered that there were many more other locations, and that it was a fairly popular Korean chain. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the coffee and business is good and the expansion is natural. So by August I ended up going to the Seongbok-dong location, just a few doors down from browny 70. This one is two stories and tends to be emptier than the Jukjeon location. Such is the power of Browny 70. But I ended up making some new friends here, and the coffee is just as good as any other Beansbins.

Early in the fall, I noticed something new on the menu. But it was something… familiar… from that place across the street. Yes, Beansbins started offering the Fondant Chocolat too! I also noted this in my Starbucks posting. It seems that Beansbins also realized how popular this dessert was at I’m Home. But instead of changing the name, as Starbucks did, they copied the exact French name.

To compete with their neighbor I'm Home, Beansbins now offers Fondant Chocolat too! September 2010
To compete with their neighbor I’m Home, Beansbins now offers Fondant Chocolat too! September 2010

Did I try it? No, not for a few months. But since I’m a chronological type of guy I’ll wait to give you my verdict. I hope you are the patient type, dear reader! 😉 I’ll tide you over with some pictures…

Iced Mocha at Beansbins, September 2010
Iced Mocha at Beansbins, September 2010
Mocha at Beansbins, November 2010
Mocha at Beansbins, November 2010
Mint mocha at Beansbins, December 2010
Mint mocha at Beansbins, December 2010

That last picture was a few weeks before Christmas. Christmas is celebrated verrrrry differently in Korea than in the US. Instead of a family and religious holiday, it’s more of a “date” holiday. So there’s not much Christmas spirit in the air. But there are lots of Christmas decorations. And many shops, Beansbins included, will have special mugs and sleeves for the Christmas and/or winter season. It’s a pleasant touch.

Early the next year, it was a snowy day. So here’s a cold winter scene as seen from a warm Jukjeon Beansbins:

View from Beansbins on a winter day, January 2011
View from Beansbins on a winter day, January 2011

Not much of a view, right? But it’s the entrance to the café street. And the little hill in the background is nice to hike up for quick exercise and a quick escape from the urban landscape.

That same day, I finally tried Beansbins’s Fondant Chocolat. So now I’ll finally tell ya what I think. It was pretty good but not as good as I’m Home’s. Yeah… if you read my I’m Home posting, then you’ll realize that I think it’s almost impossible to top I’m Home’s version. It’s the best of the best. But kudos to Beansbins for a worthy effort. It was definitely better than the Espresso Shot Cake at Starbucks. But still, trying to copy the signature dessert of your neighbor café? Not that nice, and not a good idea unless you pull it off perfectly. But it satisfied my taste buds, and also made for a nice picture:

Beansbins's version of the Fondant Chocolat, January 2011
Beansbins’s version of the Fondant Chocolat, January 2011

A few nights later, I took a nighttime picture that I also posted in Tomo Tome’s posting, but I’ll also add it here.

Snowy scene at the Jukjeon café street, with Tomo Tome and Beansbins in view, January 2011
Snowy scene at the Jukjeon café street, with Tomo Tome and Beansbins in view, January 2011

Not much more to say about Beansbins. I went there so often that I would just write in my journal “went to Beansbins” or “met {xyz} at Beansbins”. Most of the time, of course, it was the Jukjeon café street location. Actually, the baristas eventually recognized me there, so they would sometimes give me something for free if I hadn’t been there in a while! How nice, and it really improved my impression of the chain. Sometimes, I’d go to the Suji Seongbok-d0ng location. And rarely, it would be another location in or around Seoul. But usually if I was wandering in Seoul, I’d try another café that was new to me. Here, then, are the rest of my Beansbins pictures.

Jukjeon Beansbins scene, August 2011
Jukjeon Beansbins scene, August 2011
Yuldong Park Beansbins, August 2011
Yuldong Park Beansbins, August 2011
Café mocha and a free! slice of cake at Beansbins, October 2011
Café mocha and a free! slice of cake at Beansbins, October 2011
Rainy day in the Jukjeon café street as seen from Beansbins, October 2011
Rainy day in the Jukjeon café street as seen from Beansbins, October 2011
Christmas tree at Beansbins, December 2011
Christmas tree at Beansbins, December 2011
A friend pouring chocolate sauce on the plate of our Triple Chocolate Waffle at Suji Beansbins, January 2012
A friend pouring chocolate sauce on the plate of our Triple Chocolate Waffle at Suji Beansbins, January 2012
Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
View from Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
View from Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Waffles at Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Waffles at Samcheong-dong Beansbins, April 2012
Returning to Jukjeon Beansbins for the first time, I received a free waffle from the baristas along with my mocha!, December 2012
Returning to Jukjeon Beansbins for the first time, I received a free waffle from the baristas along with my mocha!, December 2012
Iced vanilla latte on the patio of Beansbins at the Jukjeon café street, April 2013
Iced vanilla latte on the patio of Beansbins at the Jukjeon café street, April 2013
Beansbins old points card (Jukjeon café street) and new card, June 2013
Beansbins old points card (Jukjeon café street) and new card, June 2013
Iced vanilla latte at Beansbins on the Jukjeon café street, June 2013
Iced vanilla latte at Beansbins on the Jukjeon café street, June 2013

Ah! One more little thing about the name. Beansbins. Inside every Beansbins, there is a row of bins with coffee beans from around the world that you can serve yourself and buy. It’s a nice touch. I thought I’d taken a picture of this but couldn’t find one. When I do, I’ll update accordingly.

Here’s a link to a Google Map to find the Jukjeon café street Beansbins.

Website:  https://www.beansbins.com

Final verdict:  ****

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