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Koreans will 'freeze to death' for iced Americanos even in winter

By Cho Min-jeong

Published : Nov. 27, 2023 - 18:01

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"I always drink iced Americano, even in winter," said Kim, an office worker in her 30s who identifies as an "eoljukah" person. Eoljukah is a portmanteau of the words for "Even if I freeze to death, iced Americano!" It refers to people who are die-hards for the espresso topped off with water and ice, no matter how cold the weather is.

The eoljukah trend has steadily grown among Korea's office workers, as iced Americanos are now ubiquitous in cafes and convenience stores here.

Earlier this year, the global Agence France-Presse news agency introduced eoljukah as a unique coffee trend in Korea. The quickly orderable and drinkable iced Americanos align well with Korea's workplace culture, which values speed and efficiency, its Feb. 10 report said.

"I have an impatient personality. I want to be able to gulp down an iced Americano like water, but with hot drinks, that's impossible," Kim said, explaining why she identifies as an eoljukah person. "I like the taste of cold coffee. If it's hot, you have to sip it slowly, but with cold drinks, you can gulp them down immediately," she added.

Park, an eoljukah enthusiast in her 20s, pointed out the differences from drinking tea as one of the factors in being an eoljukah person. “Tea is usually consumed hot and in a leisurely fashion. But with coffee, it often feels like I need to give myself a caffeine shot immediately when I'm tired. Drinking coffee in Korea doesn't quite have the same relaxed feel as tea time in the UK," she said.

According to Starbucks Korea, from the beginning of 2023 until Nov. 23, the proportion of iced drinks sold domestically steadily rose from 74 percent in 2022 to account for 77 percent of the total drinks sold here.

Even in winter, the preference for iced drinks was high at Starbucks Korea. In January, when the winter was at its coldest point, the proportion of iced drinks sold was over 57 percent, and in February, it was even higher at 64 percent. In the summer months of June to August, the proportion of iced drink sales reached 87-89 percent, accounting for almost 9 out of 10 drinks.

Koreans' preference for iced drinks has become more pronounced over the last decade. In the early 2010s, the proportion of iced drink sales at Starbucks here was less than half of the total. However, in 2015, the proportion of iced drinks reversed to 51 percent, before steadily increasing to 77 percent this year.