Where exactly do you go for the best cup of coffee in South Korea? We suggest heading to the east coast, about one hour from Seoul. Deemed the country’s winter capital, Gangwon Province is blessed with a terrain that turns stunningly cinematic once blanketed with snow yet remains magical all year ‘round. What better way to fuel your adventure in Gangwon than by touring the very pulse of South Korea’s burgeoning coffee culture?
A single trip to the coastal city of Gangneung reveals a lively locale and history deeply rooted in the beloved bean and brew. Gangneung boasts of a Coffee Festival held every October and is home to Anmok Beach, the idyllic setting of South Korea’s very own Coffee Street. The cherry — or should we say crema (coffee lovers will get the reference!) — on top? Cafes in the fringes further away from Gangneung are also a testament to the cafe-centric movement it set off.
Which Instagrammable cafes should I visit in Gangwon Province?
Linger longer in South Korea’s coffee capital and you’ll see that cafes in Gangwon Province don’t only serve specialty brews and cute desserts. Some boast scenic views that show off their prime seaside location; others bear highly photogenic interiors — which make them among the most Instagrammable cafes you’ll ever set your eyes on.
Also read: 10 Most Insta-worthy Spots in Gangwon Province During Winter
We bring you the best of all these worlds in South Korea’s ‘coffee-verse,’ where you can pair signature bean extractions with snap-worthy scenes. These most Instagrammable cafes in Gangwon Province will make for a caffeinated getaway that’s one for the books. We’re pretty sure you’ll have enough energy to zip around Gangwon in style. But first, coffee!
Cafes in Gangneung, Gangwon
Known as “the city of coffee,” Gangneung is South Korea’s unofficial coffee capital, where most of Gangwon Province’s most Instagrammable cafes stand. The place is especially famous for the stretch of cafes along Anmok Beach!
While Anmok Beach draws surfers during summer (around June to August) when the waves are perfect for their sport, its specialty cafes are go-tos for all seasons.
Fun fact: Prior to the area’s artisanal coffee revolution, Anmok Beach was known for its many canned coffee vending machines, which lined the tourist area. Even then, seaside chilling came hand in hand with the warmth brought about by a cuppa joe.
1. Coffee Cupper
While there are many Instagrammable cafes in Gangwon, none offer a more immersive, well-rounded experience as what Coffee Cupper has instore for guests. The homegrown brand has a cafe, a museum, and even a coffee farm you can tour at the foothills of Daegwallyeong.
With Coffee Cupper, you get to know the journey of the coffee you have in your hands, from bean to brew. The farm takes you through the stages of growing and harvesting coffee cherries; back at the cafe, visitors are encouraged to try roasting and grinding their own coffee beans.
The museum, on the other hand, walks you through the coffee industry’s storied past — highlighting coffee history in Gangneung. This goes without saying: Every encounter in Coffee Cupper is a highly visual experience. Take lots of photos, and finally, wind down with their selection of heirloom or single-origin coffees. Cheers!
2. Cafe Lumiere
Dainty spreads served fresh with an unparalleled view of the Sea of Japan — this is what Caffe Lumiere does best. If a quiet space is all you need to fully enjoy your cuppa, then make Caffe Lumiere your sanctuary.
Here, visitors enjoy a safe perch from where they can take in Anmok Beach’s wild waves. We recommend ordering a latte or even one of their colourful coolers; the finishing touches take the cake: fresh fruit, sprigs of edible greens, brightly hued syrup, almond shavings, perhaps even a light dusting of matcha. Best believe these pretty concoctions deserve a spot on your IG feed.
3. Terarosa Coffee
Terarosa Coffee doesn’t only qualify as one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Gangwon Province; it’s also a force to be reckoned with, thanks to its specialty brews. Think an impressive selection of single-origin coffee beans sourced from other coffee capitals such as Ethiopia, Honduras, and Panama. If you’re a serious coffee drinker who’s out to try all the Geisha (also Gesha) beans you can find on your travels, Terarosa Coffee won’t disappoint.
Of course, these coffees complement other tasteful features: breathtaking views, themed interiors, and artisanal goods fresh from the oven. You’re also welcome to watch friendly baristas prepare your drink, if you’d like to improve your coffee-making technique. Better yet, bring home one of Terarosa’s signature coffee bean blends so you can take a sip of Gangneung with you.
Because of its success, Terarosa Coffee now has many branches across South Korea (in Seoul, Gangnam, Jeju, and Busan, to name a few), but you should know that the brand proudly started in Gangwon. In fact, there are three branches you can visit in Gangneung: Coffee Factory, Imdang, and Sacheon.
4. Pine Hill Cafe
Pine Hill Cafe is an Insta-worthy gem hidden in what they call a “secret garden in the middle of the forest.” This cafe doesn’t bank on specialty drinks like our previous entries, but the dishes will satiate any weary traveller looking for a break from tours. They brew decent coffee, too.
Found within the compound of tasteful European-inspired accommodations and an event space, Pine Hill Cafe boasts vast grounds adorned by manicured gardens and the lush forest that surrounds it. Indoors, well-appointed rooms reminiscent of England’s country estates await.
Also read: 10 Lavish Country Houses in England You Can Tour for An Enchanting Holiday
5. Long Bread Brunch Cafe
Even along Gangneung Coffee Street’s row of Instagrammable cafes, Long Bread Brunch Cafe stands out. Its artsy facade alone makes for a photo op — don’t miss your chance to pose by its iconic brick structure!
While it’s also a great place to get coffee for takeaway to bring on your beachside walk along Anmok, note that Long Bread is a superb brunch spot. The menu features very Instagrammable Western comfort food, such as Eggs Benedict and Basil Pasta, in generous servings. On days with fewer crowds, save a spot that overlooks Anmok Beach’s sandy shores. That allows you to dine (or drink) with a view in no less than Gangwon Province’s coffee capital.
6. Seowon Coffee Lab
Indeed, Seowon Coffee Lab lives up to its name. It’s a warm, cosy cafe with plenty of seating options and quaint garden grounds right outside with benches. When the weather is clear or warm enough, the fresh air would do you good.
But more than its pleasant aesthetic, Seowon Coffee Lab is a venue for experimentation as well as the perfection of the coffee-making craft. A specialty coffee roaster, they offer basic drinks made fancy such as Americano topped with cheese- or salt-cream froth or hot offerings with impeccable latte art. Now to choose: To post a photo of the space, or your latte? Let’s go with both!
7. Coffee Bada
With an oceanside view like Coffee Bada’s, it’s easy to get lost in the moment. Their viewing deck looks like it belongs in a Korean movie, with a meet-cute that starts in this very Instagrammable cafe in Gangwon Province. Inside, the homey, cabin-like vibe looks as if it’ll get guests to stay a little longer. Don’t believe us? Check out the dreamy snaps posted on the Coffee Bada IG page.
When you’re done having your K-drama moment on the balcony that juts out into the sea, treat yourself to seasonal desserts that are just as photogenic. You can go for coffee, or a refreshing cooler made with fresh fruits. We recommend the former when temperatures drop, and the latter for summer days.
8. Chodang Tart
Technically not a cafe that specialises in coffee, Chodang Tart is a cool hangout popular with tourists thanks to its selection of tarts and gelato. They do serve coffee as well — perfect for pairing with their sweet treats. Pastry connoisseurs, choose from Korean tart flavours like injeolmi or ojuktart, which is made from bamboo leaves. Or, play it safe with classic cheese and egg tarts.
Aside from their menu items, what makes Chodang Tart one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Gangwon Province is its hip container van facade. Don’t forget to take a photo on your way out!
No doubt many of Gangwon’s most Instagrammable cafes credit their fame to their photogenic facades; such is the case with Toenmaru. But there’s more to this coffee house than meets the eye; although we definitely wouldn’t mind posting a photo of the cafe’s chic Scandinavian-inspired storefront.
Toenmaru is beloved for its Black Sesame Latte, so you already know what to order when you get there. Pics, or it didn’t happen! Just kidding — of course, savour the coffee’s toasted flavour undertones before flexing on the ‘gram.
Cafes in other areas of Gangwon
Gangneung may bear the pulse of Gangwon’s (and arguably, South Korea’s) distinct coffee culture, but other cafes spread across the province have also joined this java movement. Let’s see what coffee treasures lie beyond Gangneung, shall we?
10. My Terrace Coffee & Bread
Less than two hours from Gangneung by bus, Wonju is more known for being adventurers’ entryway to Chiaksan National Park. Much to foodies’ delight, it’s also home to a number of Gangwon Province’s most Instagrammable cafes. Don’t miss My Terrace Coffee & Bread, which features — you guessed it — a photogenic terrace. To be more accurate, it features a hip rooftop perfect for outdoor dining.
Even when you choose to stay indoors, what greets you is a space that oozes industrial-meets-romantic. The branch in Wonju even has a faux cherry blossom tree right smack in the middle. Between that and the food items that look as good as they taste, you wouldn’t know which to take a photo of first! Drinks-wise, might we suggest their ultra-tropical take on Vietnamese coffee? It’s called the Vietnamese Local Coconut Smoothie and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a Vietnamese iced coffee-turned-shake topped with fresh coconut shavings!
Feeling peckish? My Terrace Coffee & Bread baked creations are loaded with toppings and filling, whether savoury or sweet.
11. Nami Island Cafe (Sonata Cafe)
In case you missed it, you’ll find Nami Island in Gangwon Province. And yes, it’s the same Nami Island that rose to fame thanks to oldie-but-goodie K-dramas like Winter Sonata. Need we say more? Here, you can fill your Instagram feed with photos that will bring your Korean drama dreams to life!
Of course, a tourist hotspot like Nami would have a go-to cafe. In between exploration, stop by the Nami Island Cafe, also known as Sonata Cafe. You already know what the landscape looks like once the weather turns wintry. This is when a freshly brewed cuppa and some hot rice cakes will be handy in keeping you warm. During autumn and summer, though, you might want to opt for an afternoon tea set-up — extremely pretty like the flowers that bloom around this time of year.
12. Bakery Gung or Hanok Cafe Bakery Palace
In case you see an imposing, well-preserved hanok along the streets of Haenggu-dong in Wonju, look again. It’s not just a heritage house, it’s a cafe — a popular one, at that! Aside from its traditional architecture, people flock to the grounds for its bonsai garden. Dig into mini cakes with thick layers of cream and fresh fruit, friendly to the palate and your social media feed.
13. Secret Blue
Are you familiar with the K-drama series It’s Okay Not to Be Okay? One look at this cafe’s facade and a true K-drama fanatic will know what it is. Moon Gang-tae and Go Moon-young’s romance may have largely blossomed in the series’ OK Psychiatric Hospital, but most people don’t know that it’s a coffee shop in real life!
Located in Toseon, Secret Blue offers panoramic views of Ayajin Beach in addition to signature brews that will keep you coming back for more. Their lattes look especially tempting, considering that coastal life in Gangwon can be pretty chilly! Don’t miss Secret Blue’s pastries and savoury baked creations — they’ll keep your bellies full as you take in the scenery in these parts of Gangwon Province.
Finally an entry from Gangwon Province’s capital city, Chuncheon! Santorini is a romantic hangout and events space that’s sure to make sparks fly for any couple who visits. For the perfect captures with dreamy light, schedule afternoon coffee here.
Although the name may bring to mind a famous island in Greece, Chuncheon’s Santorini is primarily an Italian restaurant. It houses a cafe and boasts interiors and garden grounds that would make anyone swoon! Like other cafes on this list, Santorini’s desserts deserve a shoutout for always being Instagram-ready. When you’re not in the mood for cake, make a beeline for their gelato.
15. Sanida Cafe
Yet another It’s Okay to Not Be Okay filming location, Sanida Cafe featured just as prominently in the series as Moon-young’s Cursed Castle. You’ll find this picturesque cafe and events space in Wonju, surrounded by a lush forest that you can get a bird’s eye view of from the cafe’s rooftop.
In real life, though, the Cursed Castle is an ultramodern foodie’s paradise with drinks and pastries as sweet and put-together as the It’s Okay to Not Be Okay leading lady. Who wouldn’t be tempted by the spread above?
16. Cafe Gamzabatt
Last but certainly not least, another winning and unique entry from Chuncheon — Cafe Gamzabatt! Locals love Gamzabatt for its Gamza Latte and Gamza Bread. What’s gamza, you may ask? It’s everyone’s favourite tuber, the potato! Coffee and bread made from potatoes… intriguing, right?
Just when you think it couldn’t get more interesting, you should know that Cafe Gamzabatt’s garden features a whimsical house on stilts. It brings to mind adorable woodland creatures and the healing power of nature, or Gamzabatt’s cute potato mascot!
Evidently, Gangwon is more than just a hotspot for wintry escapes. Now that you know the most Instagrammable cafes in Gangwon Province, that only seals the deal, don’t you think? Say hello to your next getaway in South Korea, and start planning your first post-lockdown trip! We said it before and we’ll say it again: But first, coffee!
Brought to you by Gangwon Tourism Organisation