I stumbled across Chan’s Espresso Bar one night in Hongdae when I glanced into a shop window and saw a Clover (a much hyped, quite expensive, mechanized way of brewing a single cup of coffee quickly with consistency) amidst a coffee bar full of shiny new coffee brewing equipment. I’d never seen a Clover in Korea, so I tried to visit, but they were closed for machine maintenance. I tried again yesterday and wow, I’m really impressed by this shop!

Chan’s, which opened around four months ago, serves coffees from Intelligentsia, a specialty coffee heavyweight from the US, and Tim Wendelboe in Norway, multiple award winner and World Barista Champion, 2004.

On the clover, Chan’s currently has Tim Wendelboe’s Badnekhan Estate from India, and Kiawamururu from Kenya; as well as Intelligentsia’s House Blend, and El Diablo Dark Roast. I tried the Kiawamururu which was really brightly acidic and light-bodied, subtly fruity, floral and tea-like. As it cooled the flavor became more citrusy and tangy. A nice change from all the heavy, chocolatey, or roasty coffees you generally find featured in Korean cafes.

Chan’s also serves espresso from both roasters, with two dedicated espresso machines (a single group Synesso and a La Marzocco GS3) each calibrated especially for one of the espresso blends. Anyone familiar with these blends might notice a bit of difference due to the fact that the beans are imported and must spend some time in transit overseas, but regardless of this the espresso at Chan’s is excellent. Wendelboe’s espresso is on the fruity side, with Intelligentsia’s coming across more chocolatey and sweet. Both were syrupy thick and really enjoyable.

While chatting at the bar, the owner/barista offered us a complimentary cappuccino made with Intelligentsia’s espresso, and I have to say it’s one of the best capps I’ve ever had. It was chocolatey and sweet enough that I think it could entice even the most ardent caramel macchiato or mocha latte lovers out there. (If any of your companions remain unrepentant, they do sell mochas :).

Chan’s Espresso Bar is just up the street from Cafe Miz Moren, reviewed previously. Miz has great siphon coffee, while Chan’s has great espresso drinks as well as the Clover. Two great shops right down the street from each other offering distinctly different choices and experiences — and people say there’s no good coffee in Korea! But really, Chan’s is one of the best cafes I’ve been to so far in Korea, the coffee choices are interesting with a lot of variety, and they are prepared meticulously and competently. I’ll definitely be heading back when I’m in Hongdae, and I’ll say you should do the same!

UPDATE: For the curious, you can see photos of Chan’s construction on their Flickr page.

Directions and map below.

NOTE: Chan’s is open mainly later in the day, and sometimes seemingly randomly closed. A lot of commenters have run into problems trying to visit, and I did too when I was there. Luckily there’re quite a few other options in Hongdae, so prepare a plan B :)
Chan’s is in Hongdae, not far from Sangsu station. Check out the map below:

View Chan’s Espresso Bar in a larger map