16 May Namusairo
Coffee in South Korea represents its fierce globalization and lust for progress so it is rare that you can use traditional and coffee in the same sentence. There are many traditional tea shops that serve a variety of dried herbs and fruits steeped in water, but coffee is quite new so shops are mostly going for a futuristic aesthetic. Namusairo is a short walk from Gwanghamun, one of the five palace gates that leads to Gyeongbukgung palace. There is plenty of old-style architecture in the area so Namusairo’s traditional building does not seem out of place.
Namusairo specializes in more expensive and aromatic coffees. Their price point is a bit higher than normal at about $10 for a cup, but that cup is a Panama Geisha Honey and you can easily spend that much for a bitter Americano in Gangnam. Geisha coffee is a varietal of the coffee plant that thrives in the Ethiopian climate and is largely considering some of the best beans in the world. I had heard the hype and it delivered. Namusairo brewed an incredible clean cup. The Panama Geisha Honey was thin-bodied and mouth-watering with very low acidity and dried red berry notes. Overall I would call it tea-like, akin to the Kenya Miiri from Heart Coffee Roasters but with added floral Jasmine notes that sweetened as it cooled.
When you enter, the space is very cramped, with a small aisle around the counter to order and then find a seat in the back. There are several rooms as well as a small open courtyard that would be perfect in the Summer. Each room has incredible wood detailing on the windows and ceiling. The benches were a bit hard, but there were plenty of pillows and blankets at hand.
Considering the space I was expecting it to be full of tourists, but its far enough away from Gwanghamun and the main track that it was incredibly peaceful. There is a large study room separate from the main cafe seating that would be great for a group and the neighborhood is so quiet that you could easily relax in the courtyard, but don’t bring your laptop because there aren’t many outlets. Instead it is a wonderful place to bring visiting family or friends.
Atmosphere: quiet, traditional
Beans: Roasted in Korea
21, Sajik-ro 8-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-053
서울시 사직로 8길 21, 110-053
From Gyeongbokgung Station on Line 3:
Exit out of Exit 7 and follow main road to your left (Saemunan-ro 3-gil)
Take first right (Sajik-ro 8-gil)
Walk for about 2-3 minutes; Namusairo will be on the right-hand side
From Gwanghwamun Station on Line 5:
Exit out of Exit 1 and walk straight
Take second left (Sajik-ro 8-gil)
Walk for about 5 minutes; Namusairo will be on the right-hand side