Travel Report: Dongseongno Cafe Alley – Daegu, South Korea.
April 2019. Anyone who knows me understands only too well that I’m all about the coffee baby! It gets me going in the morning, motivates me to be productive and helps me get through those tough articles where I feel like I’m walking through treacle. Hell, most of the time coffee just helps me appreciate the little things in life, sending positive vibes pulsating through my body. Was that too much information? Korea is a very kind place for coffee lovers, where it feels like literally every third building is a trendy café. But rather than the capital Seoul, it’s the city of Daegu that has a reputation as the nation’s coffee capital, with the greatest number of coffee shops per capita. Wonderboy and I had dipped into plenty of cafes during my week in Daegu, but for my final day I decided to pay a visit to Dongseongno Café Alley, a 180-metre street home to a cluster of specialty coffee shops.
April 2019. Dongseongno Café Alley dates back to 2010 when the first coffee shop opened here, the now long gone Da Vinci Coffee. On the day of my visit the alley was largely deserted and the first café I tried my luck on was the wittily named My Coffeecal Romance.
I was the only customer at My Coffeecal Romance that morning, so I had the pick of the seats. Setting myself up at a corner table by the window overlooking Café Alley, I presented myself to the largely disinterested girl behind the counter and plumped for a Vanilla Latte. I figured I’d do an hour’s work and then move on to another place. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a quiet café but this place was DEAD. They hadn’t even put any music on and the latte itself was staggeringly average. Not exactly what I’d had in mind when I came here, so I decided to take a stroll and see if I could do any better.
April 2019. The next disappointment came in the form of Café Lucid, one of Dongseongno Café Alley’s most recommended drinkeries. Famous for their cozy vintage vibe and heavenly Binsgu desserts (shaved ice, chopped fruit, condensed milk, flavoured syrups), I discovered that the place was closed. Not an “it’s too early” or “it’s a Monday” kinda shut, but a special brand of unavailable that involved a workman drilling away at in the darkness at the back. Oh dear.
Happily, just as I was starting to feel hugely underwhelmed by the Dongseongro Café Alley experience, I chanced upon Ryu Coffee Roasters and as soon as I walked in I instinctively knew that I’d struck gold.
Beautifully designed and undeniably chic, with brass fittings, classical paintings and smartly dressed baristas, Ryu Coffee Roasters offers up the standard array of coffees along with plenty of rare, high-end beans that have been ethically sourced and all the rest of it.
Settling down at a large wooden table near the bar, I grabbed a menu, baulked at the prices and then thought: Screw it, I’ll go for the Guatemala el Recuerdo Black Honey roast.
Amusingly, I had to make a special request for milk and sugar. The waiter in question looked so bemused and must have thought me a total philistine as he trudged off to fetch me my luxuriant additions. The coffee was, needless to say, excellent and finally my Dongseongno Cafe Alley morning had been salvaged!
It’s worth noting that in the last few years a bunch of restaurants have popped up along Dongseongno Cafe Alley. There’s traditional Korean dishes on offer at Into Restaurant, pizza and pasta to be had at Kiss The Cook and fried rice/noodle soup concoctions at the oddly-named Bow The Rice. Judging by the prices that went with their menus, wherever you go it should be a decent feed.
For more on what to see and do in this hugely underrated city, check out my travel reports from Daegu.
Like this? Take a look at more of my articles from around South Korea.
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