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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Korean coffee shops are trending in K-town, favored by Hollywood stars

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Los Angeles Koreatown is emerging as a coffee lovers’ destination.

The Korea Daily analyzed coffee shops in the 2.8-square-mile area of Los Angeles Koreatown and found at least 65 businesses specializing in coffee registered on Yelp. These include popular vendors such as Damo, Memory Look, and Yeems Coffee. The area is defined from Western Avenue to Hoover Street (east to west) and Pico Boulevard to Beverly Boulevard (south to north).

Each coffee shop offers a wide variety of drinks and desserts. Starting with the Americano, most cafes provide more than 20 drink flavors, including matcha lattes, dalgona lattes, pistachio Einspanners, strawberry lattes, buttercream lattes, and honey cinnamon lattes. Although some menus look similar, the flavors and types of beans vary depending on the cafe.

Inside of a popular Korean coffee chain, Camel Coffee [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

Desserts are just as varied. From cakes, waffles, Croffles (croissant + waffle), cookies, pies, and doughnuts to the latest hits like tanghulu, Yakgwa, and dried persimmons, each shop has its own specialty. Baked items such as croissant sandwiches, avocado BLTs, and egg sandwiches are also popular.

Los Angeles Koreatown cafes are known for their trendy atmospheres that reflect the demands of the younger generation. Some are decorated with “Instagrammable” pink themes, neon signs, and artistic lighting to attract young customers. This thematic atmosphere helps increase a cafe’s popularity.

Many baristas in Koreatown coffee shops have achieved high scores or won championships in national barista competitions, offering their signature specialty coffee at the highest quality. Personalized coffee services with different beans and brewing methods are also gaining massive popularity.

Camel coffee opened its first U.S. branch in Silverlake. [Courtesy of Camel Coffee]

“As consumers have come to think of coffee as part of their lifestyle, they are more inclined to seek out unique coffee varieties and atmospheres,” said an industry expert, explaining the explosion of coffee shops in Koreatown. “Cafes are becoming more popular because they are no longer just a place to drink coffee but also a place to relax, work, or study. And the relatively low entry barrier to opening a cafe is also a factor in the growing numbers.”

In addition, Korean coffee shops run by Korean-American baristas are spreading beyond Los Angeles Koreatown to other surrounding neighborhoods. Justin Bieber, Hailey Bieber, and TikTok influencers have visited Community Goods, a cafe run by Korean-American baristas, creating a huge buzz on social media. Recently, Camel Coffee, a popular Korean coffee chain, opened its first U.S. branch in Silverlake. In addition to their signature coffee, their milk tea and mixed grain drink are highly sought-after.

BY HAEUN CHUNG, HOONSIK WOO [chung.haeun@koreadaily.com]