I made a promise to myself a few months ago that I would write more articles on Seoulinspired about places that haven’t been written about before. I also decided that I wanted to write articles that were more meaningful to me personally.
Despite making this promise to myself, I have yet to actually get around to it! Today, I want to remedy that, however, and write about a small cafe in Seoul that has quickly become a frequent place to visit for my girlfriend and me.
If you aren’t already familiar with the coffee culture of South Korea, I highly recommend reading about it. It’s an interesting phenomenon of how the cafe culture of Korea has grown and now defines so much of modern life in the country – especially in the capital.
While Kaldi Kaffa (칼디카파카페) does have a nice atmosphere, it isn’t the main attraction. Rather, this cafe focuses strongly on the quality and variety of drinks that it serves. There are very few other places in Korea that serve the coffee that Kaldi Kaffa does, and this is what makes the cafe so special to me.
The cafe is located in the Sungshin Women’s University area and is quite out of the way for anyone that isn’t a local. If you plan to visit the cafe, make sure to check out the nearby attractions also, as Sungshin Women’s University has a lot to offer.
With that being said, in this post I want to share one of my favourite cafes currently in Seoul. If you are in the neighbourhood (even if you need to make a specific trip!) make sure to check out Kaldi Kaffa – I definitely recommend it.
Contact number: 0507-1487-9998 (Korean only)
Address: 서울 성북구 동소문로26다길 34 칼디카파
Opening Hours: 11 am – 9 pm Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays.
Cost: 5000KRW-8000KRW per drink
At the time of writing, the cafe has a 4.53/5 star rating on Naver.
Directions to Kaldi Kaffa. Google Maps pin here.
Kaldi Kaffa (칼디카파카페) is not difficult to reach. However, it is a little bit out of the way and as such, it can be a bit difficult to find. As with many local cafes, the only information about the cafe is in Korean.
The cafe is located about 10 minutes from Sungshin Women’s University Station, which is located 3 stops north of Dongdaemun on Line 4 (light blue). Once you arrive at the station, take Exit 1 to the surface.
Once exiting the station, you can continue straight. This will take you along a side-walk which follows the highway. Keep following the highway as it raises on your left and as the sidewalk merges with a brick road. After walking for about 5 minutes, you should encounter a tunnel that goes under the highway on your left.
Turn right, and this should take you in a U-turn. The cafe is almost directly opposite the tunnel, and you should be able to see it just across the road. It has a large glass window on the outside and there will be a wooden sign outside.
You can also take side streets to the cafe, however, I recommend following the main road as it only requires one turn. This means that it’s very hard to get lost and you should be able to find the cafe without issue.
As I mentioned many times in this article Kaldi Kaffa’s biggest strength is its menu. The menu sells a variety of different coffees that I have not seen in other cafes in Korea. Along with the speciality menu, it also serves two types of americano, teas, ades, some small snacks and coffee beans for your own use.
Nearly all of the drinks come in hot and cold variants making them ideal for both summer and winter alike. The focus of the menu is definitely on the flannel hand drip coffees, but they also offer some rather unique lattes and americanos.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit hard to understand the listed ingredients as they are all in Korean. However, most of the hand drip coffees have unique flavours that come from exotic ingredients.
For example, the Kenya AA coffee has the influence of tomato, pecan, maple syrup and more. While these tastes are usually quite minor, they make the coffees here very unique and I am enjoying gradually tasting my way through the menu.
One thing that is important to note here is that you can ask for variations on the drinks. For example, you can ask for a heavy coffee or a lighter version if you so prefer. This is something that I wish more cafes would do.
- (Fruity) Kenya AA – grapefruit, tomato, pecan, brown sugar, maple syrup
- (Sour Fruity) Ethiopia Yirgacheffe – flowers, plum, cranberry, apple, cashew, lemon madeleine
- (Decaf) Colombia Decaffiene – mandarin, fried peanut, cashew, liquorice, chestnut
- (Wine-Chocolate) Costa Rica Black Honey – passion fruit, orange, apple, almond maple syrup
The above four coffees are the main attraction of the menu. So far I have only tried the Kenya AA and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, but they have both been great. If you aren’t in the mood for a hand drip coffee, they also have many other menu items too!
The americano coffees are slight variations on the standard drink. Both of them can have extra shots of coffee added for 500KRW, and there is also a 500KRW discount for anyone ordering a takeout americano.
The latte menu is next. This menu contains some relatively standard drinks such as (of course) lattes, flat whites, and vanilla lattes. However, more interesting is that it also has a Shrek latte (which I have yet to try) and the Kaldi Spanner – one of my favourites.
This coffee has a sweetened egg top, followed by an espresso with a small amount of condensed milk at the bottom. This drink intrigues me as the top is extremely sweet, but the middle is very bitter. It’s an interesting experience and I have come to really enjoy this coffee.
Other than coffee, a wide variety of teas are also available. If you are visiting Kaldi Kaffa, I highly recommend the coffee – it is their speciality and the tea is much more standard. However, I also understand that there are times you just feel like tea!
Other entries on the menu are quite self-explanatory. I will quickly list the herbal teas available, though, as the names are only shown on the menu in Korean.
Korea is BIG on cafes, and this is reflected in the massive variety of cafes that you can find virtually everywhere. Generally, cafes will focus on one of two things – atmosphere or coffee. Unless they are chain cafes, in which case they arguably lack in both.
As I mentioned previously, Kaldi Kaffa focuses on its menu. This isn’t to say that the atmosphere is bad though. In fact, it’s quite a nice little cafe with a homely vibe to it. There are lots of plants, chandeliers hanging from the wooden ceiling, and the furniture has a largely vintage feeling. In fact, the cafe is actually built in a traditional Korean hanok building.
There are a few smaller tables around the edges of the cafe as well as a bench along the front window of the cafe. These are great for groups. However, the tables are a bit low and small, so don’t expect to be able to study or work here.
If you are looking to study or work, there is a large bench in the centre of the cafe. This bench has four seats on either side and is a great height for working – in fact, it’s where I am writing this article from right now.
Medium-volume music comes from the kitchen providing a nice atmosphere while not being overwhelming. If you prefer to listen to your own music or otherwise, then this music will allow you to wear headphones.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to the feeling of the cafe is the family that runs it. Every time I have visited the cafe they are very friendly and welcoming. This makes the cafe feel a lot more inviting and it is one of the factors that always makes me want to visit again.
Overall, the atmosphere in Kaldi Kaffa is calming (just make sure to visit at a non-peak time) and enjoyable. The cafe doesn’t focus on this aspect as much as many others, but it doesn’t need to. The drinks speak for themselves.
Conclusion – Kaldi Kaffa Cafe
Kaldi Kaffa cafe in Sungshin Women’s University is somewhere that I have only recently had the chance to visit. However, since then I have quickly visited not once, not twice, but three more times. I am also certain that I will be visiting again soon.
Although I have been quite taken by the cafe, I can see that it is generally very well-liked by others too. The current 4.5+ star rating (out of 5) shows that the cafe is a great place to relax and chill, work, study, or to chat with friends.
Before concluding this article, I do have a piece of final advice. The cafe is quite small, and it can become full. It can also become quite loud at peak times (depending on the customers). For this reason, try to visit at less-popular times if possible. Generally, the cafe will peak in popularity at 4 pm – 7 pm.
While you can most definitely still enjoy the cafe when it’s busier, you will have the best experience visiting a bit earlier in the day. If this isn’t possible though, don’t worry. It’s still worth a visit!
With that being said, I hope that you can get the chance to visit the cafe and to enjoy it just as I have. Sungshin Women’s University area has many gems, and this is one of my favourites. I have a few more to write about soon too, and I hope to discuss them here soon!