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Seoul International Cafe Show opens its doors: Korea’s biggest coffee event spotlights new flavors and experts

Nov 08,2019
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At the Seoul International Cafe Show 2019, visitors can learn how to make coffee that fits their taste from baristas, top, enjoy artworks made on coffee cups, above left, or take time to hear what industry experts say in World Coffee Leaders Forum, above right, until Sunday at Coex, southern Seoul. [SEOUL INTERNATIONAL CAFE SHOW]
Korea is paradise if you are someone who can’t spend a week, or even a day, without visiting a cafe. The 18th edition of Seoul International Cafe Show offers a chance to learn all about what’s trending in the industry and how your coffee gets made.

The annual event, which is open to the public, is going on until Sunday at Coex in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. As one of the country’s largest exhibits for coffee, drinks and snacks, it uses all of the exhibition halls at Coex, hosting about 3,500 brands from 40 different countries. Last year, about 150,000 visitors from 78 countries came to the show to find business opportunities in Korea.

This year, the event is focused on the importance of the makers of products sold at cafes and the customers who buy such products. Hence, it shows how to offer a more customized experience, how to make programs and events that can satisfy both suppliers and consumers and eco-friendly ideas for how to be socially responsible while running a cafe business.

Considering that many cafes invest a great deal of attention into getting their coffee just right to suit their customers’ tastes, the show is also the host of the eighth edition of the World Coffee Leaders Forum, where coffee experts, including farmers, researchers and buyers, gather to talk about what’s hot in each country and more sustainable ways to keep the coffee business flourishing. This year, discussions will touch on the so-called shared economy in the coffee community.

Barista Jeon Jooyeon, winner of 2019 World Barista Championship, will also be present to share her insights on coffee making, as well as Kim Elena Ionescu, the chief sustainability officer at the Specialty Coffee Association, as well as Peter Giuliano of the Coffee Research Foundation.

Organizers said in a release that the domestic coffee market is estimated to be worth around 2 trillion won ($1.73 billion), and Korea is the seventh largest coffee bean importer in the world. Accordingly, small- and medium-sized companies, in order to appeal to the many cafe operators who want to make their businesses stand out from others, have come up with many different machines or props to sell. There will even be a sample cafe where an automated robot system is installed and no human labor is needed at all. Some start-ups are also showing machines that can extract herbal-medicine tea for non-coffee drinkers, similar to the popular capsule coffee makers commonly found in homes and offices these days.

Of course, visitors will have many chances to taste specialty coffee at the event. In the section called Coffee Alley, visitors can try out caffeinated drinks not only from shops in Korea, but also from overseas, such as Taiwan’s All Day Roasting Company and Los Angeles’ Lamill Coffee. You can also find a section marked Coffee Training Station to learn how to make coffee that fits your taste. The Coffee Library offers a chance to delve into a pool of knowledge from experts who have written extensively about coffee.

If exploring Korea’s coffee scene indoors at Coex gets boring after a few hours, be sure to check out the Seoul Coffee Tour Bus. There are three different routes, which take you to either Eunpyeong Hanok Village, Seoul Forest or Huam-dong every day to show what the cafe scene across the city is like. Each bus can take up to 12 people at a time. The schedules differ each day, so check in advance at the cafe show.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]



The Seoul International Cafe Show 2019 runs through Sunday at Halls A through D of Coex in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. Friday is open only for industry experts or business buyers, but Saturday and Sunday are open for the public. The price is 18,000 won to visit the event for one day, and 36,000 won to visit for multiple days. The event will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the last entries allowed at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 3:30 p.m on Sunday. For more information, visit www.cafeshow.com or call (02) 6000-6720.