Club Espresso, established in 1990, is one of Korea’s old school specialty coffee houses. They’re located up in the hills in Buamdong, on the northern side of the Blue House/Gyeongbokgung area in Seoul. It’s a unique area that reminds me of Silverlake in Los Angeles (well, just a little bit, and minus the hipsters).
Their brick building is full of bare wood furnishings which makes the whole place feel like a very large club house, a work-in-progress put together to have a place to practice a hobby. That is, until you head up to the second floor roastery, where it becomes clear that coffee is much more than a hobby. Above the cafe they have a pair of Probat and Diedrich roasters on duty, connected to a store room with an extensive range of coffees, as well as a dedicated cupping room.
I like Club Espresso because they have such a wide range of coffees available. For instance, from Ethiopia you can choose a washed Yirgacheffe, a naturally processed Sidamo, or a Harar. They also have a 30% discount on coffee that’s 5 days post-roast. In Korea, where roasted coffee generally costs $35/lb, it’s a good deal.
How is the espresso at Club Espresso? It’s on the bittersweet and acidic side of things, like a high cacao dark chocolate with some intense dry fruity tartness, kind of like dried apricot. It is sweet but the acicidity overshadows this until the finish, where the underlying sweetness reveals itself and lingers pleasantly.
To be honest, while I appreciate their espresso blend, I love Club Espresso for their variety of roasted coffees more than anything. If you go, pick out a few different 100g bags to try at home! Sample a few different continents, or pick a few coffees from a specific region to compare and contrast flavors.
Club Espresso is definitely worth a visit, though it isn’t easy to get to. It’s up on a hill beyond comfortable walking distance from any subway lines. There is a bus that stops a short walk from the cafe, though. Check the map below before heading out.
Directions & Map.
Double check on your maps, but I think you can get to Club Espresso by taking a bus near Exit 3 from Gyeongbokgung station. According to their website, 1020, 7022, or 7018 are okay, and you get off at the Buamdong Samuso stop.
Visit their website for more info: http://www.clubespresso.co.kr/
View Club Espresso in a larger map