The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour)

Arguably the best cafe in Gangnam, the Beaner Cafe has been greeting coffee lovers for six years. The first of whatakdrama’s Seoul cafe tour series is the Beaner cafe in Banpo-dong, close to Shinnonhyeon subway station.

Just go inside a block from the populated main road (Gangnam-daero), and you’ll run into a cozy-looking brick building, on the first floor of which resides cafe Beaner. Grab your favorite style of coffee, whether that be Americano, latte or an espresso shot. I sat down with Lee Min Seok, the Beaner’s head barista and owner. Min Seok blends coffee that harmoniously tastes sweet and sour, and his coffee is not bitter.

Five Ways of Coffee Tasting

 The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) - whatakdrama.com
The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) – whatakdrama.com

As seen on A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting from Blue Bottle Coffee, there are five key aspects of tasting coffee: sweetness, body, acidity, flavor and finish.

(1) Sweetness: If you’re new to coffee, you may think coffee is bitter, not sweet. With an acquired taste, coffee can taste as well as smell sweet. For instance, the coffee beans from African countries are known for their flavorful aroma such as a smell of berries or flowers. When drinking coffee, also be inclusive of all types of sweetness. Then you may catch hints of white sugar, brown sugar, honey, etc etc in your cup. 

(2) Body: If you’re confused what the generic word ‘body’ means, compare water and a cream of broccoli soup. Both are arguably liquids, but the latter is thicker and denser. The concept of body can also be seen in beers. Lighter (in color and body) beers like a lager (e.g., Budweiser) have a soft body and feels lighter on the tongue as opposed to darker, heavier beers like a stout (e.g., Guinness).

(3) Acidity: Like sweetness, imagine all possibilities of acidic feels. It could be acidic like lemon, orange, pineapple, apple, cranberry, milk, yogurt, herbs and spices, and more.

(4) Flavor: It’s like trying to describe wine. Does it taste heavy, woody and chocolatey? Light, fluffy and dry? It’s time to get creative with your adjectives.

(5) Finish or Aftertaste: Finish includes the top, middle and bottom notes of your coffee, from the initial aroma to aftertaste, and your overall impressions.

In addition to these five, other categories include fragrance/aroma, strength/intensity and balance.

The Beaner’s Signature Blend

The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) - whatakdrama.com
The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) – whatakdrama.com

Blended coffee or single origin coffee: Difference is whether you’ve used one or more types of coffee beans. Alfred Peet in 1966 opened Peet’s in Berkeley, Calif., which was the start of the specialty coffee.

Min Seok blends his coffee in a way that tastes melodiously sweet and acidic. “My special way of blending coffee involves balancing sweetness and acidity for a a taste of harmony. This way, flavor doesn’t change much when coffee is freshly-brewed or cooled,” he says.

Just like in a perfume, in coffee, there are different notes from the initial flavor to aftertaste. Min Seok mixes the flavorful African origins on top, heavy Central American origins in the middle and Latin American origins as a base.

Essential to Coffee Making: Consistent Taste

The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) - whatakdrama.com
The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) – whatakdrama.com

“Serving delicious coffee once is easy. But customers revisit a cafe for the taste that they remember,” Min Seok describes. “It’s challenging to serve a consistently same cup of coffee every time, because of so many variables. The beans I use might not be available this year depending on the harvesting conditions. Knowing how to replace the beans is a skill that requires years of practice.”

Visit Cafe Beaner for…

Visit cafe Beaner for: coziness, freshly-baked scones, wifi, outlets, great for work or catching up with friends. Two floors (first floor and basement). Roasting room, Dutch equipments displayed by the front door. Fancy and vintage-feel.

 The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) - whatakdrama.com
The Beaner’s Guide to Coffee Tasting (Seoul Cafe Tour) – whatakdrama.com

The Beaner (Facebook): 725-29 Banpo-dong (Sinnonhyeon station exit 2), Seoul; 02-548-0810


What’s your favorite coffee? Comment below!

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