“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
They say for good coffee, go to Hell.
Well, no they don’t really say that. But in this case, it makes sense. Hell Cafe is an odd fixture in the coffee scene of Seoul and long-time favorite to baristas and coffee aficionados. Where cafes with peppy decoration and trendy drinks seem to come and go on every corner of every street, Hell Cafe, with all its gritty interior, has lasted. Their secret lies in their coffee.
I could write about the coffee and the beans and roasting and all of that here, but it would be spouting that which has already been said so well by Timeout in this article here.
The cafe feels almost unfriendly, at first. Unpolished tables in the back corner tucked up against the painted forest-green, concrete wall are just big enough for three people, maybe a fourth. There is another small table shimmied in between the front window and the bar, as well as the main table taking up half of the cafe. Dried flowers are placed carefully here and there. Rather than brighten the space, they seem to emphasize the classy dreariness of it. The owner is neither friendly nor unfriendly. He brusquely recommended the Hell Latte, but patiently waited as I decided on which other drink I wanted to try. I had messaged him through instagram prior to my visit, asking if he would be alright with a small photoshoot there. Reminded of this contact, he unsmilingly replied, “Yes, I know.” I assume this was his short form for,”Taking photos here is absolutely fine,” since he seemed to care so little about it. I liked him.
Visiting Hell Cafe was a special Cafe Hunt. It was a good cafe to visit on that gloomy, drizzly day, warmed by their famed coffee, and also to have a good chat with my friend and fellow half-Korean, Laura. We talked about my part-research, part-art work, The Halfie Project.
Nothing extraordinary took place that day, but putting this project and how I’ve dreamed about it for nearly three years now into words will always remain significant to me. I hope you’ll check out The Halfie Project instagram to learn more about it and join the family 🙂
Laura was so kind to let me take her photos that day. She has the most beautiful eyes; clear and nearly blue, though she keeps some asian features. A unique mix of West and East, another halfie. Keep updated with The Halfie Project to learn more about her and her story in the near future.
Thank you, Hell Cafe, for being so supremely uninterested in us that day, and simply offering a comfortable seat and a good cup.
Location: Bogwang-dong 238-43, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Hours: M through Fri – 8am to 10pm / Sat & Sun – 12pm to 10pm
As always, whenever you visit Hell Cafe, I hope you will tag me @sincerelybeckyw. I love to see how you join the Hunt 🙂