Hi, guys! This entry is actually a really exciting one for me to write because a couple days ago we went to You Are Here Café in Hongdae! This may not mean much to you guys, but this café is owned by two groups, Talk to Me in Korean and Eat Your Kimchi! Eat Your Kimchi are Simon and Martina, a married couple from Canada who have been living in Korea upwards of 5 years. They make videos about Korean life and culture, and they are actually quite funny! Talk to Me in Korean is an online resource where you can access Korean language learning materials for all skill levels. They have videos on common phrases, slang, as well as cultural topics. I use their Iyagi audio files quite often. If anyone is interested in starting to learn Korean, their website is a great place to start! They also have textbooks available for purchase. You can visit Talk to Me in Korean here and Eat Your Kimchi here!
The café itself is tucked behind the Hongdae subway station, and takes about 10 minutes to get there by walking. I suggest GPSing it yourself because the map they provide is quite confusing and we actually got a little lost on the way. The café was quiet, clean, and simply decorated, with Eat Your Kimchi and TTMIK merchandise on display and for sale. They had a really diverse menu, with a full tea list and different milkshake varieties. I chose a nutella milkshake which was ridiculously overpriced but absolutely delicious so I don't regret it one bit. Each of us also got a different slice of cake: a rainbow roll cake, carrot cake, and tiramisu cake.
Another thing happened for me that was actually really, really cool! We were sitting there talking and the guy at the table next to us turns around, and its Hyunwoo Sun from Talk to Me in Korean! I had a little bit of a starstruck moment because a)he's really handsome and b)I watch him on youtube all the time so seeing in him person was so crazy! He was so nice and let us take pictures with him...I really hate how I look I was having a Let's-look-like-a-potato kind of day...but he was also doing an interview for Korea Times and the interviewer interviewed us, too! Hopefully we show up in the article!
A few days ago I went with my friends to a café called Ann House, located maybe 10 minutes from my school by walking. The place itself was so white, pink, cutesy and girly. Needless to say, I loved it. Here, the have private rooms, some with fancy chairs and tables and others where you can sit down on cushions on the floor and watch TV. For our room, you had to take your shoes off outside but there was a TV screen in the wall where you could watch Korean Television. We watched (of course) one of the K-pop daily music programs...I believe it was MNet M! Countdown...anyway, moving on. On the menu they had different latte and tea flavors, ice cream and cakes. The cakes were relatively inexpensive but the lattes and teas ranged from about 7 to 8,000KRW. I ordered a sweet potato latte and a tiramisu cake. The cake was super spongy and fluffy, but a lot of desserts here are like that. The latte itself had no espresso in it! Just milk and sweet potato flavour. It was actually quite delicious and good to warm up with. I enjoyed this place because you could have your own private room and watch TV and if you order a good amount, they will leave you alone for a long time. It's a good place to study and hang out with a group of friends. We also ordered Honey Butter Chips, which is kind of like a huge food craze in Korea right now. The bags are extremely hard t find in stores, so this café was taking advantage a little bit and selling a plate of them for 3,000KRW. But they put the honey flavor on themselves so they were really warm when we got them. When we left, they gave us a discount coupon for 4,000KRW. We actually went back again last night and I think the servers are starting to get to know us because they marveled at how good our Korean was (which I humbly denied, of course.) They gave us another coupon so we will definitely go back again. Okay, since I said so much in the beginning, prepare for an onslaught of photos to end this blog post...
Last week, I was able to meet up with a really close friend of mine who is from Seoul. Her name is Ju Hyun and I met her in Vermont about two years ago. I give a lot of credit to her for sparking my interest in Korean language and culture. While she was in Vermont, we would watch Korean movies, listen to Korean music, and eat Korean food together. She was the one who first attempted to teach me Hangul, the Korean alphabet. She is actually the same person who took me to Café Bau House in the previous entry. We walked around Hongik University, which is known as Hongdae, in Korean. Hongdae is an area full of bars, clubs, restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops. This area is full of young, trendy students so the area itself is really unique. I walked past one extremely famous coffee shop called The First Shop of Coffee Prince, which is from a famous Korean drama of the same name. It's actually one of my favorites, and the lead actor is so handsome! I didn't stop there, though, because I heard that the coffee itself is expensive.
After the Dog Café, my friend and I went to a café called Café the Bridge. In addition to normal kind of tables, there was an area where you could take your shoes off and climb up some really steep, cramped stairs, to little tiny closed off attics. These attics are called darak-bang and they were filled with blankets and pillows. My friend and I ordered a chocolate cheesecake to share. I ordered a vanilla latte and she ordered a pumpkin one. The drinks themselves were about 7 or 8,000, while the cake was only 5,000. Hongdae's rent is extremely high, and that is reflected in their food prices. The late itself was delicious and beautifully prepared. The barista actually went to Boston for 4 years and was really excited to tell me all about it. This café, though expensive, was extremely cozy and cutely decorated. I definitely want to go back!
Hope you guys aren't missing me too much!!
Hey, you guys! Sorry it's been awhile since I've posted, but I've been out exploring Seoul so much! I went to a type of café the other day that we really don't have in America (except maybe in California or NYC...)
Are you ready to see where I went?
......Are you sure?
...................jja-jjang!! *waves hands excitedly*
This is exactly what it looks like: a dog café! In Korea and a lot of other Asian countries, there are cafés where if you buy a drink, you can pet and play with different animals. There are cat cafés and a sheep café that is also in Hongdae, the same neighbourhood as this one, that I am dying to go to. This café is called Café Bau House. The lattes themselves cost 7-8 dollars, but there is no time limit on how long you can stay and play with the dogs. You can buy them treats, they can climb up into your lap, and you're allowed to carry them around the café. There are dogs ranging from all types, breeds, and sizes. I had so much fun here and it helped numb the pain of missing my own little puppy. I can't wait to go to more places like this, so please stay tuned for more experiences like this! The only negative aspect was that the doggies go to the bathroom on the floor, but the staff are very attentive and clean everything up right away. I bought a bag of treats for the dogs which caused them to become a little aggressive, which can also be a problem if you have small children. All in all, this was a unique coffee experience unlike any other that I've had. Have some more doggy photos~
I hope you enjoyed this extreme dose of cuteness!! See you all soon!
I apologize for the weird posting times for these blogs, as right now there is a 14 hour time difference between Saratoga and Seoul. How are you all? I'm sure if you've been in and out of the shop you've heard me chatting endlessly about my upcoming semester in Seoul, South Korea. Well, after many hours of traveling, I am here at Ami Guesthouse in Shinchon! I won't go into detail about how grueling of a trip it was getting here, but I do already have two coffee experiences to share with you guys!
The first one might seem like a bit of a cop-out, but it was the first place I saw in the Incheon Terminal, and I was ravenously hungry. I went to Dunkin Donuts. Let me just say that in this one instance, the donuts that I bought were far and above American DD as far as texture and tastiness. Fluffy, a little flaky, sugary..yum yum yum. They also had a Winnie the Pooh theme going on and were selling donut types inspired by characters such as Tigger, Piglet, and Pooh himself.As far as the coffee went, I just ordered a plain latte. It only came in one size and it was tasty and satisfied my caffeine needs. All in all, two donuts and a latte were about 6,600KRW (about 6.50) which may be expensive but I am still at the point where I just got here and don't know what's considered expensive or not.
After finding my guest house and taking a long nap, I decided to go out and walk around Shinchon and find something to eat. Eating alone is considered somewhat sad and pathetic here, so let's just say I found a lot of prospective places to go with friends. This area looks lively and is full of shops, restaurants, bars, and noraebang (karaoke rooms)
There are a couple of chain cafés here that we don't have in the States. Since I was walking around and internally panicking about what to eat, I stopped at a café called TomNToms. I ordered a small Hazelnut latte. I think Korean coffees and desserts have a tendency to be extremely sweet. This latte was sweeter than any latte I've had at Starbucks, and while it was very tasty, I had trouble finding any actual coffee taste. Definitely good if you want something sweet to sip on! They had a variety of other drinks I have yet to sample, but this Tom&Toms struck me as quite expensive. A small Hazelnut latte was about 4,400KRW (about 4.25-30) I was in quite a busy shopping district (a district that has many stores I'm DYING TO GO TO once I'm settled in at the dorm.) Another thing that was interesting was that the buzzer they give you for your drink has a TV Screen in it! I wish I had taken a picture, but it plays all sorts of ads while you're waiting. The décor was extremely simple and clean, with most of the signs written in English. I noticed a lot of couples there as well.
So far everyone here has been so kind to me! They are patient with my Korean and don't insist upon speaking English with me because they don't think I will understand. It's going to take awhile to adjust here I think, but I'm really excited to share everything with you all!
It's your humble barista/coffee shop blogger here to update you on some fun things that have happened at the coffee shop!
You may have noticed that our walls were looking a little barren and art-less during the month of January, but this month we have some new art by two people who are very special to me (so of course I'm going to do a lot of bragging about them!) Rebecca Zeh, my cousin and best friend since babyhood, has filled our front room with paintings and photographs featuring familiar Saratoga locales, Paris street scenes, and other places from her own memories and experience! Rebecca has a great appreciation for simplistic scenes and a thorough understanding of how to evoke feeling through color.
Do I sound like an art aficionado or what?
Brent Pickerd (who, in fact, designed the awesome logo we now have featured on our travel mugs, ceramic mugs and tee-shirts) is a graphic artist who, in this blog author's humble opinion, has a style that contrasts Rebecca's greatly. His pieces are full of dynamic explosions of color that seem to place the viewer in a cosmic environment. While Rebecca's art evokes in me a sense of pleasant, quiet contemplation and appreciation, I feel from Brent's art a sense of excitement and movement. I am so happy to feature two different styles of artwork in the same month!
I am, of course, describing the art from my own subjective point of view. Here are just some of the pieces we have hanging up. Come in to the store and see the rest for yourself!
Another fun occurrence–we were on the news! Did you catch us on TWC last Monday?
If not, you can watch the video here! Matt Hunter and his news team ventured out (bravely) into the snow to see exactly what people do to survive awful winter weather around here. We are so grateful that they chose to come in and film our store, and will probably brag about it and our barista Brenna's adorable interview for some time.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you guys a quick update! As for myself, my time stateside is rapidly winding down. If you remember from my first blog post, I shared that I would be leaving to study abroad in South Korea. I probably have time for one more blog post before I leave and begin blogging about my coffee experiences there. What would you guys like to read about? Share your thoughts with me!
Most of you are aware that we had to close for a short time last month. We felt so awful about depriving our customers of their caffeine, so we decided to take that time to update our store entirely, give it a facelift, and make it much more comfortable and accessible! Our boss and employees worked long and hard to give the shop some much-needed TLC.
We went from this....
New paint, brand new handmade (by the bossman and his brother!) wood countertop, new handwritten (simpler) menu, more shelving, and lighting...it all looks much brighter, don't you think?
In the back, we shrunk down our candy shelving and added some bigger tables to accommodate larger parties.
As far as behind the counter, we have brand new refrigerators, tile flooring, an industrial sized sink, new espresso grinders, new coffee brewer, and MUCH more counter space. We have so much room to move around, which allows us to work better, happier, and more efficiently. When your baristas are happy, they smile when they make your coffee, and everyone knows that that's part of what
makes your coffee delicious! :)
And, for the pièce de résistance....*cue epic music*
Wow, now that is a beautiful, shiny piece of espresso machine.
As a long-time employee at this coffee shop, I cannot tell you how excited I am that we have this brand new machine. Since we've gotten this machine, our espresso has tasted richer, stronger, and fuller. With it we can make beautiful (and seriously kick-ass) lattes, cappuccinos, and other specialty drinks.
I know this blog post was maybe a little overdue, and a lot of people have been in since the changes, but I thought it'd be a good idea to write about exactly what it was we changed and to let you guys know how dedicated we are to making our coffee shop a comfortable place for you! We are always open to feedback, so don't be too shy to let us know your thoughts!
At the risk of making this blog too long, I wanted to introduce another big change we made. We want to be as involved with social media as possible, so we created a free smart phone app (available on both Apple and Android devices) for you guys to use! This is what it looks like,
This app can be downloaded simply by searching our name on your device's app store. There are links to our Facebook, Twitter, a map showing where we're located, as well as our general contact information. You can also order coffee and access special coupons and promotions!
One of the best things about this app is that there are virtual punch cards for drinks and food! For years, we had paper punch cards on which you'd receive a punch for each drink purchased. Buy 9, get the 10th free. With the app, you only need to buy 6 drinks to get the 7th free! As for the food card, if you buy 8 items off the Lunch menu (salads, wraps, sammis–sorry, no breakfast!) you can get the 9th item free! Having this app on your phone means one less crumpled up card you have to scramble to search for in your wallet!
Okay, I think I've said enough for now.
As always, thank you so much to our customers and our readers! Please don't hesitate to send me feedback and suggestions!
It's been a long time since we've posted a blog, hasn't it?
Well, today we're bringing the blog back to you guys with a brand new writer! We are so thankful to our lovely Briana Webley for taking the time to do thorough research and create fun and informative blog posts, but the time has come to pass the torch to a new blogger. I wanted to take the time in this post to tell you guys a little bit about myself and what I plan to do with this blog.
I think most of our regular customers might know me already, but my name is Olivia and I've been at Saratoga Coffee Traders (on and off) for about 4 years. I started working at the coffee shop while I was still in high school and it is a job that I cherish and enjoy very much. Working at the coffee shop has given me the ability to interact with people easily and comfortably, as well as the opportunity to make the world a better place with delicious caffeinated beverages. I love my job, my coworkers, and our customers!
Most of you might know already, but I am a person that is always seeking new adventures and I have a strong desire to see as much of the world as I can! Last year I took off from college and traveled Europe for 3 months alone (hence the silly clog picture above.) It was a life changing experience for me, and it is something I suggest that everyone try if they have the means to do so.
This brings me to my intentions for this blog: In February of this year I will be embarking on another journey to Seoul, South Korea. I am majoring in Korean language in school and will be studying abroad at a South Korean University. Obviously, this means I will not be at the coffee shop for some time.
Through this blog, I want to show our customers– as well as anyone who may come across our blog– Korean café culture, caffeine consumption habits, unique coffee drinks I come across during my journey, and any other cultural tidbits our readers might like. I want to show our readers South Korea through their unique cafés and coffee shops. In the meantime, I am thinking of profiling each of our employees in a sort of "Meet the Baristas"type-deal.
Please let me know what you think! If you have any suggestions on any coffee-related blog topics, leave me a comment, a message on our facebook, or on my facebook!
I really need your help to make this blog a success, and your feedback is so important to me!
Thank you so much for reading,
In case anyone is curious as to the lack of a blog, I can think of only one reason to give. We will see you soon Bri. Congrats to Briana Webley and Anthony Saunders. AND WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BABY EMMA....our first little coffee bean! <3
Hello anybody reading this blog, Briana here.
I wanted to take the time today to not write a blog about coffee or tea but to write a blog about my appreciation.
I have been working at Saratoga Coffee Traders for over 2 years now and have met some amazing people throughout these days.
I started off as a barista a couple years ago and was very nervous because I did not know what to expect since I did not have much experience in the coffee world. I quickly adapted all because of how great my co-workers and customers treated me.
During this time I met some amazing friends and an amazing man.
When I told everybody that I wanted to expand my family and became pregnant, I got nothing but support and love.
I got this incredible offer to do all of the online marketing for the coffee shop. I have been enjoying doing this to the fullest and now 9 months have past and it's time for this sweet baby girl to arrive.
This has been the best job i've ever been blessed with and can also thank all of the customers for this experience. Today is my last day before I go on maternity leave. I will be coming back a couple days a week after I spend some time with my family.
I want to thank all of my amazing co-workers, my two great bosses and all of the incredible customers for making me smile every day coming into work.