Coffee Libre – The (Really) Hidden Gem among Hongdae Cafes

Coffee Libre (커피 리브레)

English Address (Google Map) : 227-15 Yeonnam, Mapo, Seoul

Korean Address: 서울시 마포구 연남동 227-15a

Operating hours: 12.00 pm – 9.00 pm, closed every Monday

I recommend you to use Naver Map for direction to Libre Coffee as it’s more accurate.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Introduction

Coffee Libre is situated far from the happening part of Hongdae (홍대) and is tucked at a quiet corner at an old warehouse area. At a glance, no one would have guessed that such a inconspicuous cafe is far more popular than expected among the locals.

They don’t serve any food, not even puff or pastry. There are only two tables in the cafe, and the sitting capacity of the cafe is less than 10. And yet long queues were formed during working day’s meal hours. The reason? Quality coffee beans.

The Coffee Machine almost took up half of the space in the cafe. And from this angle, you can see both tables, one on the left, and one on the right.

Background of Coffee Libre

Coffee Libre is actually a side venture from their main line of coffee bean roasting (and they had won numerous awards). The team behind the roaster travels around the world in search of the best coffee beans and is involved in multiple coffee-related events in Seoul. Champion Barista Sang Ho Park has been using their beans in the UK Barista Championship. Sang Ho took the 2013 UK Brewers Cup title at The London Coffee Festival.

I’m sitting at one of the two tables

Their Coffee

On menu, Coffee Libre only serves 3 kinds of coffee – Espresso, Caffè Latte (espresso with milk) and Americano (espresso with water), at W$4000 each. Each cup of coffee is prepared by using their one of three kinds of espresso beans of the day.

Their menu with three kinds of beverages

You may also purchase their freshly roasted coffee bean and upon request, they will make a cuppa aeropress coffee for you right on the spot.

Generally, the espresso beans used in Singapore has quite a standard taste so that it’s widely accepted by the public. I tried Libre’s “Bad Blood” espresso bean and was blown away. The taste totally differs from the typical espresso taste. The coffee taste of bright acidity with a complex fruit blend.  I can’t really handle the taste as it totally deviates from Singapore’s traditional espresso bean. I had never tasted such a sour coffee in my life.

Initially i ordered their caffe latte (right) and notice the out-of-the-ordinary tinge of sour in their coffee and so i ordered the espresso (left) to confirm it.

The Caffe Latte at W$4000

I sat at the table and observed how did the Barista made an aeropress coffee for one of the customers who purchased coffee beans from the shelf. Perhaps he noticed how interested and captivated I were, he actually served the extra portion to me, free of charge. This roast is much easier to accept and I love it – Just a tinge of acidity, strong flavor and absolutely aromatic. The only problem is, I forgot to ask about the bean used. Zzz.

Here are some of the interesting roasts that Coffee Libre has to offer. Note that these roasts are seasonal:

Farenda Sertaozinho (Yellow Bourbon / Pulped Natural)

Jasmine, Peach, Grape, Milk Chocolate

Verde Alto (Caturra / Washed)

Orange, Lime, Pineapple, Caramel

The old school rustic feel is certainly amplified by the presence of herbal medicine shelf

Conclusion

This little coffee place is definitely not easy to locate and may require some effort. Apart from visiting the usual cafe that serves mediocre coffee, if you are interested to visit a cafe that is a little out of the ordinary and to widen your palate for handcrafted coffee, Coffee Libre may be the place for you.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Maps and Directions

I use the Naver Map for Coffee Libre because i think it is much more accurate with more accurate details.

1. If i remember correctly, i came out from Hongdae Exit 4. I had to walk along the main road to the right to cross the road using traffic light. These are some really wide roads.

2. Then, there’s another traffic light to cross over to the Coffee Libre side. I can’t recall why i didn’t come out from Exit 3 already.

3. Anyway, after you crossed to the Coffee Libre side, walk straight and you need to turn to your left into a small alley. This is the crucial part. See my photos below.

Click to enlarge

This is the crucial turning point. I miss this turn as it’s relatively easy to miss

This is how the small alley looks like after you turn in. Walk straight and you should be able to see Coffee Libra.

You should be able to see Coffee Libre on your right. You can easily identify it by the head of the Wrestler.

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The Bridge Cafe, A Secret Haven at Hongdae

The Bridge Cafe (카페더브릿지)

English Address (Google Map): 2nd Floor, Mapo-gu 347-17 Seogyo

Korean Address (Naver Map) : 마포구 서교동 347-17번지 2층

Click here for my full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Introduction

One of the must-do in Hongdae is cafe hopping and it’s not hard to see why. There are so many eateries, cafes and bars in the area of Hongdae therefore each and every eateries must be unique in their own ways, be it for their food, their service or their interior to attract customers.

Among the cafes, The Bridge cafe stood out among all for it’s unique interior. It’s situated at level two of the ‘quiet side of Hongdae’. This cafe is hardly noticeable and I don’t think I would step my foot into this cafe just basing on the exterior and not for my prior research.

The Cafe

The Bridge cafe occupies level two and three of the three storey terrace house. Don’t be bluffed by it’s ordinary exterior as it’s another haven as you enter this cafe.

Every corner of the cafe lies a small cosy private room that is only exclusive to you and your friends like it’s your mini guest suite. Shut the door and shut off the outside world and indulge in a world with only yourself and your friends.

For those who like to have a little me-time can also pick up a magazine or book from the cafe’s book shelf and spend a quiet afternoon with a good cup of coffee. Apart from the mini wooden private room, they have private rooms that offers a window view.

During my visit, as the cafe is relatively empty, i request to sit at other tables three times just to have a different kind of feel to the various concept rooms.

Some partitioned area has no chair, just a low coffee table and some fluffy cushions that is just perfect to stretch and relax your legs after a tiring day of walking and shopping. Wooden planks at some part of the room were intentionally unvarnished and while bringing the cafe into the present day, it still has a nostalgic feel with the brick wall laid out on a wall that is painted in contemporary white color.

The soft and relaxing music really made me felt like making this cafe my last destination and call it a day while i laze my day away. Next best thing about this cafe? Of course it’s the free Wifi!!

Drinks and Food

The price of the coffee is slightly higher at W$5,500 (S$6.50) for a cup of late caffe but I like the fact that the waitress totally leave you alone after settling the bill when my drinks arrived.

There are some food items available but i did not order any.  Waffles is available at W$5000-W$6000 and they do serve savoury dishes like Bagel, Sandwich and Wrap. Do share with us if you happen to try their food.

The Bridge Menu: Click to enlarge

 

 

Conclusion  

The Bridge Cafe probably will not be my first choice for food as there are many other interesting food choices in Hongdae like the BBQ intestines from Paljamakchang or Andong Chicken from Yeolbong Jimmdak. I believe the same kind of waffle and good sandwiches can be found in Singapore so I thought just ordering a cup of beverage is good enough for me.

In fact it’s the experience that made this visit unique and worthwhile. Due to The Bridge Cafe’s different unique settings at different areas of the cafe, it is the perfect place to take selfies and photos with friends and loved ones. I almost gave this cafe a miss due to my very tight itinerary and i am glad that i made the right choice after paying a visit to The Bridge Cafe.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Map and Directions

1. As mentioned in my previous post, always remember Exit 9 of Hongdae. Exit from Exit 9 of Hongdae MRT station and turn to your left and walk straight as shown in the map.

2. Turn left at the T Junction to the “quiet part of Hongdae”.

3. Keep to the right side of the road and turn right.

4. Walk straight and walk about 20 meters and keep a look out to your left for The Bridge Cafe. It’s situated at Level 2.

The entrance of The Bridge Cafe is on the right side of this photo

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