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[Coffee Klatch] Puff Out, new hideout in eastern Seoul for coffee, classic hip-hop loversBy Kim Da-sol
Published : June 24, 2023 - 16:01
Seongsu-dong in Seoul has been likened to parts of Brooklyn for many reasons. Its eclectic, industrial vibe from its origin as the home of shoe-making studios and car repair centers for decades attracts those in their 20s and 30s to the neighborhood.
Showrooms of fashion brands and restaurants -- from high-end to modest eateries -- come and go here, but what makes Seongsu bustle is the presence of cafes. From the flagship coffee shops of famous brands to uniquely local cafes, cafes are ubiquitous here.
Opened just two weeks ago, Puff Out stands out for at least one thing for sure. Its facade -- which doubles as its entryway -- resembles a giant speaker, which was designed to deliver the message that visitors who come here will be drawn into this dreamlike hideout for coffee and music.
“Only those who are thrown into this place can experience its warmth, which is a twist from their expectations seeing this place from the outside,” Cha Do-yun, CEO of Puff Out, told The Korea Herald.
Inside, the cafe is filled with 8,548 pieces of crystal hanging from the ceiling. Underneath the crystals is a shallow, rectangular pool of water at the cafe's center.
“The crystal artwork, called ‘Crystalphobia,’ gives a dreamy feeling to those looking at it, as lights are being reflected through the many facets of the crystals. This suits the mood we aim to give,” Cha said, adding that the water underneath was installed to show how the sound of of the hip-hop tunes played inside the cafe ripple like waves of water.
What fills the cafe is not just the aroma of its signature dark chocolate-like, strong coffee beans specially blended at Caffe Museo, but also the weighty hip-hop music of the 1990s from the US’ East Coast -- or boom bap -- that plays on the speakers.
“That’s why we named our coffee blend ‘East blend,’” Cha said.
Four signature coffee items at Puff Out are the Honey Marron, the Puff Nut Latte, the Brown Scoop Latte and the Cali Cold Brew.
“For Honey Marron, we used organic acacia honey that can remove the bitter taste of the cold brew extract. We finish it off with handmade whipped chestnut cream to offer a unique texture and taste,” Cha said.
The Puff Nut Latte is based on almond milk that has an espresso shot added to it, but baristas here wanted to keep the heaviness of its blended beans so they topped the drink with handmade whipped cream used for desserts. With the addition of a spoonful of granola bites, one can experience three layers of taste in this small cup of coffee.
“The name of our cafe explains everything about us. The word, ‘puff out,’ is used to say something cool and hip these days, and we wanted to make our visitors feel comfortable and see themselves cool while they’re here,” said Cha.
“Also, my favorite rapper is Puff Daddy,” he added.
What makes Puff Out special compared to other cafes in Seoul?
“There are many cafes in Seoul that are cool and hip, but our standard is that no matter what, we are people who serve people. So our three baristas want to treat all our customers politely and try their best to offer the best coffee experience at Puff Out,” Cha added.
Puff Out is located at Yeonmujang-gil 84, Seongdong-gu, Seoul. It is open every day at 11:30 a.m., and closes at 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends.
Seoul has over 25,000 cafes with many opening and closing each year. The Korea Herald visits unique cafes in Seoul that satisfy people’s tastes for both coffee and atmosphere with the aim of experiencing coffee drinking as a culture. – Ed.
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