By reservation only, it’s Blue Bottle’s Samcheong Hanok cafe.
“A setting where traditional and modernism coexist
Around the corner of Blue Bottle Samcheong Cafe, one will find a serene, winding backstreet which leads to a wooden gate. Upon entering lies a cozy, ‘ㄷ’ shaped hanok (traditional Korean house), a place where beauty and nature coincide. Surrounded by sunlight, a courtyard greets the guest.
This is not a typical hanok but one with a contemporary touch. While preserving the traditional characteristics of the hanok, finishes, furniture, and interior colors were given a modern upgrade, such as the beige rattan, green house plants, and pink fabric sofas to contrast the pastel pink resin dining table.
To accommodate the beauty of the Hanok, a thoughtful drinks and desserts pairing is served. Our crafted drinks are paired with Maison M.O’s artisan desserts and served in Jungeun Lee’s off-white, Baekje styled ceramics.
A hanok is a traditional Korean house that dates back to the Joseon dynasty. Hanoks are traditionally made with soil, wood, and rock, and each hanok is different but all have its characteristic sloping, tiled roof. (Readers will know that Cafe Onion also has a hanok cafe.)
To reserve a spot at the hanok cafe, there’s a 30,000 won deposit that’s returned upon your visit. The visit itself is 28,000 won ($20.58 USD as of this posting) per person for a 3 course coffee and pastry pairing.
The cafe itself is hidden around a couple of corners from the Samcheong Blue Bottle, and there were two tables located inside the hanok. You can see the inside wooden beams of the ceilings and everything is very rustic looking and quaint.
We were given a pairing sheet and a yogurt macaron as an amuse bouche to cleanse and prep our palate.
The First Pairing
“Just as we announce the beautiful season of flowers and fruits that we can see, the bright colors and the fresh flavor of fruits are expressed in drinks and desserts, signalling the beginning of a fresh and pleasant fair.”
The first pairing was a Pine Lime Fizz, paired with Omija Granite. The Pine Lime Fizz is a “refreshing drink where you can feel the green scent of pine trees, refreshing taste, and fresh lime at the same time.”
The Omija Granite was “a desert that reinterprets fruit salad and shaved ice with crispy raspberry meringue, elegant sweet rose ice cream, and ice made of omija, a traditional Korean food ingredient.
First Pairing: 4/5 stars. The Omija Granite was nice and fruity (yet creamy) and I loved the Pine Lime Fizz. I’ve been a fan of Blue Bottle’s fizzes ever since trying the Cascara Fizz, and would usually take one to-go after my shifts at the Mint Plaza location.
The Second Pairing
“Experience a second pairing of moist desserts with soft cream reminiscent of clouds floating in the blue sky and exotic sparkling coffee drinks hidden behind vanilla cream.”
The second pairing was a Nola Cola Float, paired with Baba. The Nola Cola Float is a “unique coffee drink made by adding fresh lemon juice and cool sparkling water to a New Orleans coffee base mixed with stir-friend chicory and vanilla bean cream that spreads in the mouth over a refreshing drink like coke.”
The Baba was a “traditional French dessert with a soft mouthful of bread soaked in syrup with a subtle scent of citrus with rum and whipped cream.”
Second Pairing: 2.5/5 stars. I knew going in that I would probably not like the Nola Cola Float, as I’m not a fan of their New Orleans (Nola) cold brew, which combines cold brew with chicory and adds simple syrup and a splash of milk. As much as I love sparkling water, it seemed odd paired with cold brew that already had an interesting flavor from the chicory. The dessert was okay–soft, syrupy, and faintly rum-flavored, but overall I wasn’t impressed by the dollop of whipped cream and the pairing flavors they were going for with this course.
The Third Pairing
“We offer fresh chocolate and blend coffee with good balance as a Nel drip to experience Samcheong Hanok. I’m going to finish the pairing calmly with coffee that gives a strong opening.”
The third pairing was a Nel drip coffee (which you could have hot or iced) paired with a piece of passion fruit chocolate. I ordered the Nel drip hot. You could also have ordered a mugwort tea if you wanted a caffeine-free option. The Nel drip uses a piece of fabric (which I lovingly refer to as a “sock”) instead of a paper filter to “maximize the deep flavor and soft texture of coffee beans.”
The chocolate was a “chocolate with a soft texture that melts in your mouth and feels sweet and sour passion fruits behind dark milk chocolate.”
Third Pairing: 4/5 stars, rounded up. Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things, and they paired well. It was the first time I had a Nel drip and I’d be curious to try it again. The passion fruit chocolate was yummy and rich, a bit too rich for you to want to eat another piece. It rounded out the pairings nicely, coming full-circle to what Blue Bottle is known for: coffee that takes time and patience but is worth the care and attention to detail.
Overall, I was very pleased with the pairings for the price point. Had it been more expensive, I would have grumbled a bit. I would have liked more information than what was merely on the cards (that I have translated here using Papago), but perhaps if you understand Korean, they would be able to give you more information on each pairing. Alternatively, English translations on the card would have been appreciated.
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