Inside Blue Bottle Coffee’s industrial-style flagship in Seoul

Blue Bottle Coffee’s first South Korean cafe which opened in Seoul’s artsy Seongsu neighbourhood earlier this year, features an industrial-style design with steel surfaces and red-brick fixtures. 

The cafe was designed by Schemata Architects, which has already created several of the brand’s branches in Tokyo, Japan, reports Dezeen.

South Korea is the second international market for the US coffee company , which opened its first Tokyo cafe in 2015, inspired by the hospitality of traditional Japanese kissaten (coffee house) culture.

In the new three-floor, 14,000sqft Seongsu location, each level is dedicated to a different use. The cafe has been designated to the basement – a decision made by the practice after seeing that the ground floor overlooked a busy road often blocked with traffic.

“Having the cafe in the basement provides a calm and peaceful space away from the bustle on the ground,” the design team explained to Dezeen.

At its centre is a huge stainless-steel service counter, above which a section of the ceiling has been cut away to provide views to the upper floor.

Large stacks of red bricks – a material typically used to clad the facades of buildings in Seongsu – have been dotted throughout the space, where brand merchandise like packets of coffee and mugs can be displayed.

“As a mark of respect for [Seongsu’s] history, we decided to also use brick inside the building,” explained the practice.

A short set of stairs leads down to a lowered seating area that’s dressed with timber tables and chairs, as well as a couple of long beige sofas.

The ground level hosts a roastery, a storage room for coffee beans and an area dedicated to cupping: the practice of observing the taste and aroma of brewed coffee. It is all fronted by glass allowing pedestrians outside to see the coffee-making process. 

“The basic design rules for Blue Bottle Coffee cafes remained the same in this project, which is to use a limited number of materials to create a space with a sense of unity and to create a flat relationship between the customers and the staff over the counter,” the practice’s founder, Jo Nagasaka, told Dezeen.

Blue Bottle Coffee 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. The chain plans to have several stores trading there by the end of the year. 

“Every time we visit Korea, we are deeply honoured 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.”



  1. Avatar

    Kathy posted on October 17, 2019

    Any idea why they have not planned any store in mainland China?

  2. Avatar

    James Dooney posted on August 14, 2019

    It looks like a really interesting minimalist concept. Would you say that this company is looking to be a little bit "No Frills" in nature - just looking to put out the best coffee it can produce without all the extra hoo haa ?

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