A beautifully modest cafe, unique in interior design but faithful to a good cup of coffee.
Among the hundreds, dare I say, thousands of beautiful cafes that dot the streets of Seoul, it is a challenge to stand out. In a city full of movement and noise, people hurrying from one place to another, being louder and busier seems to be the key to getting noticed. Yet one place in particular caught my eye, despite the many sights and sounds clamoring for my attention. A place that struck me with its quiet simplicity and sunlit space. Cafe Loby hasn’t been around for long, but yet it is making a buzz among cafe hunters like myself. It lets its fine coffee and striking interior design speak for itself. I arrived just before opening, strolling through an ordinary avenue in the early morning to come across the front window. Wide and clear, the window reveals the entire inside of the cafe, illuminated by the soft morning light.
A few words come to mind at the sight of Cafe Loby.
Pure. Simple. Tidy. It’s the sort of place where one sits with only a novel for company, sipping a cafe au lait from a small, porcelain cup. Where one doesn’t need to fill the silence with meaningless words. The air feels a bit easier to breathe here, and I take a deep breath myself before entering. It seems as though everything is made of glass and crisp white trimming. The seats inside are narrow, and each round, little table is just large enough for two cups of coffee to nestle together. It’s just right for the singular dreamer or a cozy couple. The owner has a kind smile and he welcomes me in as he polishes the milk steamer. I am already anticipating a latte to kickstart my morning and am hardly disappointed when I order their specialty drink, the malt latte. It’s a unique drink and takes time to enjoy it. Their cold brew is frozen into a grainy ball of coffee-ice that bobs in a glass of fresh milk. The drink is enjoyed as the coffee slowly melts into the milk, becoming stronger as the ice dissolves. A little glass jar of extra milk is given to me to refill my cup as I sip. For someone who frequently takes her latte on the run, I must make myself wait patiently as the ice melts away. It takes me over an hour to finish, but I learn to love it until the very final drop. The backdoor leads to an enclosed courtyard, walls high to make a space solely belonging to Cafe Loby.
The sky is clear, and the white and cream-colored stones seem to gently reflect the light. It is outside in this courtyard where Cafe Loby’s unique photo friendly sculpture sits. It is simply a large stone square, with a circle cut out in the middle, large enough for a tall woman such as myself to stand nearly upright inside. It’s striking and modern, the square shape at odds with the rest of the circular-styled cafe. Round tables, round cups, round stepping stones, and one massive square statue. At first glance, it looks peculiar, and yet somehow, it all fits together. I find myself feeling comfortable with the peaceful atmosphere of Cafe Loby. Perhaps it’s because I came in the early morning. Perhaps it’s the time I must take to fully enjoy my malt latte. Or perhaps it’s the quiet demeanor of the owner that imbues the whole place with a calm air. Whatever it is, this modestly beautiful cafe makes me appreciate once more the small, reserved things that often go unnoticed in this fast-paced concrete jungle of mine. An open room full of morning light and a slowly sipped cup of coffee suit me just fine.
Hours: Weekdays 8:30 am~ 9:00 pm (Sat/Sun 11:00 am~7:30pm)
Location: Seocho-dong 1564-4, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Bakery partner: @ejbakingstudio
Photo credit Manon Thore
As always, when you visit, tag me on instagram @sincerelybeckyw so I can see how you enjoy the cafes, too! Join the Cafe Hunter tribe 🙂