A few cafés are well kept secrets. Others are secretive just because they are far away from view, deep in a neighborhood or deep in the mountains. Today’s café, With Coffee House, is one of the latter.
It was the first Saturday of April 2011, and it was my moving day! As I mentioned in a previous posting, I moved from Cheongdeok to Jukjeon. The move went pretty quickly, starting at 8am and finishing before noon, with an ajusshi with a work truck my 형’s help. In thanks, I treated my 형 to sandwiches and coffee at I’m Home. Later in the afternoon, he had to go to his son’s soccer practice. This wasn’t in Seongbok-dong, though, it was in the next neighborhood over, Sinbong-dong. Furthermore, it wasn’t in the main, dense area of Sinbong-dong, it was along the road to the west that goes towards the entrance to Gwanggyo-san (Gwanggyo Mountain). To get there from Seongbok-dong, one had to go up and down a semi-rough road, adding to the feeling of rurality and going to a distant place, though this has been smoothed out in the years since. Anyway, it was fun to watch the kids play soccer for a while, but then we decided to go for a walk. And we went west, further up the path, deeper towards the mountain trail. The road was winding and a little rough in some parts, though again, this also has been smoothed out in the years since. We saw a sign for a coffee shop, and kept following the path until we saw two coffee shops. So we chose one, and this was our introduction to With Coffee House.
With Coffee House turned out to be quite fancy, fairly large, and also a barista training facility. We wondered how they could stay open being so far from a lot of people, but there was a large neighborhood of semi-fancy houses nearby, so that probably made up a large bit of the clientele.
To the left of the entrance is a large counter with ample space for the baristas and decorations, as well as a few tables, and to the right is the main space with many tables, a few trees, a few bookshelves, and even a large area separated by a glass wall for big groups. There is also an ample wooden deck with a few wooden tables if you’d like to enjoy the view and the crisp, fresh, foot-of-the-mountain air.
We ordered coffee, and I got my usual mocha:
Pretty, yeah? At first the chocolate drizzle on the latte art seems asymmetrical, but upon closer inspection it’s actually a spiral interpretation. It was very tasty too.
We had to leave soon to go back to the kids, but on the way I snapped two more photos of the area:
The next pictures I have are from December 2012. Does that mean I didn’t go there for a year and half? Without photographic or journal evidence, it’s hard to tell. I have a feeling I might have, but maybe it was so rural and I didn’t quite remember how to get there. In any case, I did go again with my girlfriend on Election Day 2012. We enjoyed a mocha and an affogato together. We also tuned in to live TV on her Samsung Galaxy Note II, and enjoyed the cute animations of the candidates Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae In.
For those of you who don’t read Hangul, the first picture has results from Seoul, while the second picture has results from Daegu, Park Geun-hye’s hometown.
And as we all know Park Geun-hye won and became the president of South Korea. How ironic, then, that I went to With Coffee the day she was elected, and I returned to With Coffee less than 24 hours after she was impeached! As I write, December 10, 2016, after many weekends of many millions protesting her corruption, another candlelight vigil is taking place around Gwanghwamun in Seoul, this time in celebration of the end of her presidency.
I returned to With once again in November 2013. I had met up with my 형’s brother and his family on a Saturday for a delicious lunch of eel, but as they had other plans later on, I decided to go to With alone. This time, for some reason, it was almost empty. But since I was already there, I decided to stay. Christmas decorations were already up, and I decided to get a house blend. Unfortunately, as you can see, the quality of my iPhone 4‘s pictures had degraded by then, but still, you can get a good idea of the scene that day.
While I didn’t enjoy the strangely empty café, I certainly enjoyed this hand drip coffee.
So here I am again today, in December 2016, enjoying a waffle and a mocha, and writing this blog post. Unfortunately the wi-fi is glacially slow here; I had to switch to tethering with my phone.
And, my laptop battery is almost down to 0%… so I will have to finish this post later today or tomorrow! I’ll have updated pictures and the final review. Until then!
And, it’s tomorrow lol. So, to wrap up, I visited With Coffee House again yesterday. No complaints, except… well, an observation. The clientele was a little… old? Yeah, it makes sense; younger people would have a hard time finding and getting to this somewhat isolated café. Most people there yesterday were 40 or above. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to have more balance in ages. 😉 And I think younger people who love cafés would enjoy this place too. Anyway, I noticed upon coming in that one of the stately trees that had been out front had been cut, and the parking lot expanded. Also, instead of having one other café nearby (Analog Pot), there were now four fancy cafés just to the south of With, alongside a new paved road. So it seems this rural part of Sinbong-dong was setting itself up to be a café district! And it’s lost a little of its rural charm in the process. But it’s still worth a visit, and still retains a lot of its 2011 feeling. Have a look:
I had a mocha to see if it was as good as before. I can’t be sure after so many years, but I certainly enjoyed it. I had a waffle too.
And a few more pictures to round out the review:
To wrap up… good coffee, good location, spacious but cozy interior, lousy wi-fi, and sometimes empty or sometimes old clientele. Do check it out sometime if you can.
Here’s a link to a Google Map to find With Coffee House.