The Perfect Café – Part 9 [Café Craft]

After a long hiatus, the “Perfect Café” series is back, now reporting from Paris!

I’m writing on a snowy Sunday afternoon from the 10th Arrondissement, where there’s a canal that I hardly knew existed before stumbling upon its mention in a series of helpful Yelp reviews (for the record, it’s called Canal Saint-Martin and is near Gare d’Est).

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin

A foot bridge and a possible dam?

A foot bridge and a dam

The snowy canal

The snowy canal

Lot of bundled up Parisians, out and about

Lot of bundled up Parisians out and about

There was a guy in an aloha shirt and shorts who was posing for a picture... Fortunately, after his friend captured the perfect shot, he put real pants on.

There was a guy in an aloha shirt and shorts who was posing for a picture… Fortunately, after his friend captured the perfect shot, he put real pants and a jacket back on.

The canal at night

The canal at night

The canal at night

Another night shot from further up the canal

Just down the street from this quaint, wintry scene is Café Craft, a warm haven for laptop-toting students, work-centered coffee lovers, and the occasional pair of conversationalists.  The relatively small space offers a medley of espresso concoctions, tasty baked goods (their banana bread is divine), and soft, relaxing tunes that range from jazz/easy-listening to folky alternative-pop.

Café Craft

Café Craft

Banana bread and a café creme

Banana bread and a café creme

Despite it’s tiny store front, the café accommodates a surprising amount of people — it’s really easy to settle down here for a few hours, either on your laptop at the (very popular) long table with other internet-browsers or on the little couch corner in the back.  The latter is more conducive to sitting back and enjoying your cup o’ joe than doing reading, but, given a lack of alternatives, I can assure you it’s not a bad spot to get some work done.  It’s well-lit throughout by a collection of modern light fixtures and has practical little additions (like hooks on the wall to hang your coat) that made me feel right at home.  And, best of all, the bathroom is spotlessly clean.

This distinctly Parisian café, with its good coffee and mod decor, reminds me of Seoul’s café culture, one of the things I miss most about Korea.  The ambiance is great and the coffee is ridiculously expensive (shoulda checked the prices before I ordered… 8 euro for coffee & banana bread!!).  But, as in Korea, you end up paying for the wifi and the hours you spend on their couch.  I know there must be more (hopefully cheaper) cafés like this in Paris; all I have to do now is find them.

Street art just around the corner from Café Craft

Street art just around the corner from Café Craft

Café Craft

24 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris (10ème Arrondissement)

Metro lines 4/5/7, Gare d’Est/Jacques Bonsergent

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The Perfect Café – Part 8 [Café Poem]

A fellow KLI friend and I discovered this perfect study cafe one afternoon in Sinchon. It’s called Cafe Poem, and is quite small compared to some of the other cafes in the area — it’s only one floor! But, it’s got good seating, outlets and extension cords (!!), nice big windows, and great music (mostly R&B, which is right up my alley).

My friend and I have been twice now, so we’ve tried a number of their drinks. I really enjoyed the green tea, and the cafe au lait I had wasn’t half bad either (although it wasn’t nearly as pretty looking as my friend’s cappuccino…).

Cappuccino

Cafe au lait

Iced vanilla mocha

Green tea

Green tea

Prices were normal by cafe standards (4-8,000, with most around 5 or 6), and you only have to buy 8 drinks to get a free one with their stamp card! (Unlike Cafe Caribou, a large chain, which rips you off and makes you buy 15 drinks before giving you a ‘free’ one. They have a branch in the dorm building, of course.) Another plus is that the barista is friendly and nice — a 친절한 직원, in Korean. My first time there, he offered me an extension cord when I pulled out my laptop! That sure won me over.

I’ll try to go back once more before I leave, just cause I like the place and want to support it. I probably won’t get a chance to study there though, given that my final exams are on Wednesday and Thursday and Typhoon Bolaven is supposed to roll in with its 130-mph winds and heavy rain this afternoon (it’s kind of a big deal). Ah, well. Studying is overrated.

The Perfect Café – Part 7 [La Colombe]

One rainy afternoon last week, I went cafe searching in Apgujeong, the trendy area that neighbors (now-famous) Gangnam.  (In case you haven’t heard, Gangnam Style has surpassed Call Me Maybe as the new global summer hit… You can watch the very strange (and suggestive) music video here.  Maybe I’ll dedicate a post to it later.)

It started to rain pretty steadily as I was walking around Apgujeong, so I speeded up my cafe search and chose a spacious-looking but empty cafe called La Colombe.  I blamed the lack of customers on the weather and decided to give it a chance.  I ordered a cafe au lait, bought a peanut butter cookie (one of my favorites), and found a table by an outlet.

Cafe au lait + peanut butter cookie

 I settled down there for a solid few hours, just working on my blog and appreciating the well-chosen R&B and hip-hop emanating from their speakers.  I had no complaints — the internet was good, my coffee and cookie were tasty, and I pretty much had the whole cafe to myself.  And I got to watch the rain from my cozy seat inside, which is always nice.

Surviving despite the Starbucks across the street

Now, the wooden benches weren’t exactly the plush chairs I’m used to…but that just makes me sound spoiled (Korea, you’ve been too good to me).  It was really a lovely cafe, and I’ll certainly go back if I’m in the area!  ‘Til next time, La Colombe.

The Perfect Café – Part 6 [Two Chairs]

two chairs

delightful coffee

reminds me of “Where God Drinks Coffee”*

*in the basement of Swift Hall, at the Div School Coffee Shop

first sip was an explosion of flavor

i mean an EXPLOSION (i was surprised.)

light-bodied (short-lasting aftertaste), a bit acidic (but not too much), plain delicious

[disclaimer: i know nothing about coffee descriptors, only of them, which happens to be enough to use them.]

and in the most delicate-looking tea cup

it’s called “Ethiopia Yirgacheffe” – 에티오피아 예가체프

i picked it because i’ve never tried Ethiopian coffee beans, and because the name looked cool

 naturally, the description was in Korean, and thus of no use to me

now i happen to be the sole patron in this coffee shop

i’ve always wondered how these specialty coffee shops survive

just sipping on my coffee while whizzing cars pass by

(they whiz because of the rain. clearly monsoon season isn’t over yet.)

fortunately, i have a thick pane of glass between myself and the street, and a hot cup o’ joe and the blogosphere to keep me company

thanks, two chairs, i’ll probably be back.

one more thing:

right after i published this post, i caved and decided to order the milk patbingsoo.

yup, it’s delicious too.

The Perfect Café – Part 5 [Princeton Square]

Once upon a time, I found a lovely library cafe that seemed like it would soon become my regular spot.  It was full of books, plush chairs, and outlets, and was called Princeton Square.  Best of all, it was a mere two-minute walk from my dormitory building.

The sad truth is that Princeton Square now appears to be closed…for good.  The interior lies empty and the closed sign has been up for weeks.  While I could be optimistic and hope that they’re just remodeling, I haven’t seen anyone working in the space, so I doubt that’s the case.  Honestly, I’m not that surprised, since their prices were quite high and they weren’t busy very often.

So, this is my tribute to Princeton Square, the cafe that could have been the one (…that drained my bank account).

As a library cafe, Princeton Square contained walls full of books.  I never actually perused the shelves, as I assumed that they would all be in Korean, and because I always had my laptop with me to blog.  But the books gave the space a really great vibe — it was the perfect quiet-but-not-too-quiet place study or get some work done.

All the seats were plush armchairs or couches, and most of the smaller one-person tables were next to extension cords (outlets are difficult to find in cafes!).  The latter point might be due to the fact that it was a “library cafe”, and thus better-suited to students and other work-oriented customers.  The space was well-lit by overhead lighting, table lamps, and natural light from the large windows, making it a very pleasant place to be.

The first time I went I ordered the milk tea, which came in this cute little pitcher.  That made it slightly more worth the 7,000 won I paid for it, since it stayed warm for a while and filled 3 teacups or so.  The tea itself was pretty delicious once I added a little sugar.  It was also served with two small tea cookies, one sugar and one chocolate chip.

My second visit I got the citron tea (유자차), which was not the best choice.  Not because it wasn’t good, just because I could’ve made the exact same thing myself with a jar from the supermarket for a fraction of the price (I think it was 6,000 won).  Anyways, I’ve learned to justify high prices with ambiance, and usually stay for a few hours to convince myself I’m getting my money’s worth.

Princeton Square also had free wifi with a strong connection (of course) and was open late during the week (until 10 pm).  I would’ve loved to go back a third (and probably fourth) time, but it looks like it was too good to last.

The Perfect Café – Part 4 [Market O]

A week and a half ago, I went to Apgujeong with a couple of friends from class, one of whom lives in the area.  Apgujeong is located near the upscale and shopping-centric area of Gangnam, so it’s similarly characterized by higher-end stores and brand names.  We went on a search for a cute cafe to hang out in for the afternoon, which turned out to be a particularly good plan since it was raining. Continue reading

The Perfect Café – Part 1

As I mentioned in my last post, Sinchon is brimming with coffee shops (no pun intended).  Korea’s cafe culture has been around for a long time; look around and you’re likely to spot students, well-dressed business people, and older folks alike chatting over drinks (and often smoking cigarettes if there’s an outdoor patio or a smoking floor).  These cafes are everywhere, and they all have their own style. Continue reading