The first South Korean cafe for Blue Bottle Coffee has launched today.
The brand’s 14,000sqft headquarters in Seoul includes a roastery and training lab, which is open for public tours, classes, and tastings. Blue Bottle will open a second cafe in Seoul later in the second quarter and has plans for more by the end of the year.
South Korea is the second international market for the company, which opened its first Tokyo cafe in 2015, inspired by the hospitality of traditional Japanese kissaten (coffee house) culture.
“Every time we visit Korea, we are deeply honored by the enthusiasm and love for our brand,” said Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan. “Our Instagram account has more followers in Seoul than any other city in the world. South Korean guests have travelled thousands of miles to meet us in the US and Japan. Finally, we are bringing Blue Bottle to our loyal Korean guests.”
The industrial, red-brick building that Blue Bottle Korea has launched in is located in the Seongsu neighbourhood, often referred to as the “Brooklyn” of Seoul. The space, designed by Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects, displays the brand’s signature emphasis on natural light and warm minimalist design.
Featuring an open atrium with glass separating the first and second floors, the building offers a transparent view from street level into Blue Bottle’s roastery. Guests may descend a staircase into the intimate below-ground cafe featuring classic walnut chairs and tables.
Seongsu is situated next to the idyllic Seoul Forest, an urban green space frequented by families of all generations.
Blue Bottle sees huge potential for growth in the Korean coffee market, which is quickly emerging as an international destination for specialty coffee. Koreans consume more than 25 billion cups of coffee per year, and more than half of the world’s Q-graders – coffee specialists licensed to purchase premium green coffee beans – live in South Korea.
With more than 18,000 coffee shops already trading in Seoul alone, Blue Bottle Coffee has entered a highly competitive market. It intends to differentiate itself by quality and sustainable practices, bringing expressive blends and rare single origins sourced through direct trade to the country.