Dalgona to Citrus Tea: Must Try Cafe Drinks

Cafe drinks-- yummy specialty drinks

Discover the Allure of Korean Cafes Unique Beverages

The cafe culture is more than enjoying Korean Cafe Drinks. It’s a vibrant aspect of Korean society, with cafes serving as social spaces where people can relax, meet friends, study, work, or even have a date. Korean cafes are known for their aesthetic appeal, offering stylish interiors and cozy seating arrangements. They also offer various beverages and snacks, including themed cafes. Korean cafes are also known for their exceptional customer service, making them a significant part of modern Korean society. Rapid growth and popularity have made Korean cafe culture a significant part of modern Korean society.

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Diversity of unique Korean Cafe Drinks

Cafe culture is a big part of life here. As a result, the diversity of its offerings is a testament to the power of creativity and innovation. Subsequently, the options for cafe drinks are almost unlimited. Coffee, teas, and ades available in cafes reflect a willingness to experiment with traditional ingredients and flavor combinations. This produces an opportunity to try unique and exciting beverage options.

1. Whatever the Cafe Owner Suggests

Korean coffee houses offer a diverse range of cafe drinks that may be unfamiliar to visitors, and seeking recommendations can lead to discovering exciting new flavors. Ambiguity or mistranslation in menu items can sometimes occur, leading to confusion over the true essence of the drink. However, engaging with the owner or barista can provide insight into the cafe’s specialty drinks and philosophy. This is my favorite way to learn about the cafe, so I can share with you guys.

For example, bingsu latte might be translated as “shaved ice latte,” but this doesn’t fully capture the fact that bingsu is also a popular Korean dessert that typically features shaved ice, sweetened red beans, fruit, and other toppings. Which is important, if like me, you don’t like red beans. So make sure to ask if you aren’t sure.

2. Dalgona Coffee

Dalgona tea or coffee is a trendy whipped cafe drink that originated in South Korea. It is named after a type of Korean sponge candy called dalgona. To make it, you need equal parts of instant coffee (or tea) powder, sugar, and hot water, which are whisked together to form a thick, creamy foam. The foam is then spooned over a glass of milk (or dairy-free milk) and ice, creating a layered effect. Dalgona tea or coffee is easy to make and has inspired many variations, including matcha dalgona and chocolate dalgona, as well as using different types of milk such as oat milk or almond milk.

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Photo by Olena Bohovyk on Pexels.com

3. Jeju Citrus Tea (Yuja-cha)

Green tea lattes are one of the most popular Korean cafe drinks here in Korea. It is made with matcha powder (powdered green tea), milk, and sweetener. The taste of a green tea latte is rich, creamy, and slightly sweet, with a distinct earthy and slightly bitter flavor from the matcha. The milk adds a smooth and velvety texture to the drink, which balances out the bitterness of the matcha. The overall flavor profile of a green tea latte can vary depending on the quality of the matcha and the type of milk used, but it is generally regarded as a comforting and indulgent drink that is perfect for any time of day.

4. Traditional Tea and Tea Ceremony Tastings

Tea and tea ceremonies have a long history in Korea and are a big deal in Korean culture. The tea ceremony, which they call “darye,” is a fancy event where they serve tea to guests as a way of showing respect and gratitude. In Korea, they have all sorts of traditional teas like green tea, barley tea, and chrysanthemum tea, and they like to brew them in a teapot or teacup and enjoy them with a little snack. So if you’re ever in Korea, make sure to try some of their traditional teas and soak up the rich cultural heritage that comes with them.

5. Cafe Drinks with Unique Ingredients

Korean cafes need to come up with new approaches to stand out and differentiate themselves from the thousands of coffee shops in the country. The competition is fierce, and it’s crucial for cafes to create an experience that will keep customers coming back for more. Unique and exciting flavor combinations are just one way to achieve this goal, but cafes also rely on their themes, designs, and social atmosphere to attract and retain customers. Many cafes in Korea have unique and eye-catching designs, ranging from minimalist and modern to cozy and rustic. Some cafes also feature themes, such as study cafes, book cafes, and pet cafes. In addition to coffee and tea, Korean cafes often serve a variety of desserts and light snacks, making them a popular destination for socializing and spending time with friends.

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Some Examples of Unique Ingredients

Here is a list of some of the unusual ingredients I’ve encountered at Korean coffee shops: Ginseng, Red bean, Sweet potato, Cheese, Flower petals, Pine pollen, Mochi, Chestnut, Avocado, Purple sweet potato, Rice, Black sesame seeds, Jelly, Mugwhort, Beetroot, Lotus seed, Citron (yuja), Matcha (powdered green tea), Sweet pumpkin, Barley, Cactus fruit, and Taro root.

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6. Green Tea Latte (Nokcha Latte)

Green tea latte is also known as “nokcha latte” in Korean. It is a popular drink in Korean cafes that features matcha powder (powdered green tea), milk, and sweetener. The drink is made by whisking matcha powder with hot water. It creates a smooth and frothy base mixed with steamed milk and sweeteners, such as honey or sugar.

Green tea latte has a rich and creamy texture with a distinct earthy and slightly bitter flavor from the matcha. The milk adds a smooth and velvety texture to the drink, which balances out the bitterness of the matcha. The overall flavor profile of green tea latte can vary depending on the quality of the matcha and the type of milk used. But it is generally regarded as a comforting and indulgent drink that is perfect for any time of day.

In addition to the traditional green tea latte, some cafes offer variations of the drink featuring vanilla, caramel, or red bean paste. These unique flavor combinations add a new dimension to the classic green tea latte, making it a popular drink among both locals and tourists in Korean cafes.

7. Seasonal Drinks

Korean cafes often offer seasonal drinks that feature flavors and ingredients that are popular during certain times of the year. Here are some examples of seasonal cafe drinks that can be found in Korean cafes:

  • Winter: During the winter months, cafes often offer hot and comforting drinks like ginger tea, citron tea, and cinnamon latte. These drinks are perfect for warming up on cold days and are often served with traditional Korean sweets like rice cakes or tteok.
  • Spring: In the spring, cafes may offer drinks that feature seasonal ingredients like cherry blossoms, strawberries, or green tea. Some popular drinks during this time include cherry blossom latte, strawberry ade, and green tea latte.
  • Summer: During the hot and humid summer months, Korean cafes offer refreshing drinks like watermelon ade, grapefruit ade, and iced green tea. These drinks are often served with light and refreshing snacks like shaved ice or fruit salad.
  • Fall: As the weather cools down in the fall, Korean cafes offer drinks that feature autumnal flavors like pumpkin, chestnut, and sweet potato. Some popular drinks during this time include sweet potato latte, chestnut ade, and pumpkin spice latte.

These seasonal café drinks showcase the diversity and creativity of Korean cafes, which are always looking for new ways to incorporate seasonal ingredients and flavors into their drinks.

8. Fruit & Jelly Drinks

Fruit and jelly drinks, also known as “bingsoo” in Korean, are a popular and refreshing drink in Korea that feature a combination of fruit, jelly, and ice. They are typically made by blending fresh fruit, such as strawberries or mango, with ice to create a smooth and slushy texture. The drink is then topped with fruit jelly, which is made by boiling fruit juice with sugar and agar-agar (a type of seaweed-derived gelatin) until it sets into a jelly-like consistency.

Fruit and jelly drinks are often served in tall glasses or bowls. They are a popular dessert option in Korean cafes. They can be customized with a variety of toppings, such as sweetened condensed milk, ice cream, or whipped cream. Fruit and jelly drinks can feature different combinations of fruit and jelly flavors. Some popular fruit and jelly drink flavors in Korea include strawberry, mango, green grape, and blueberry. These visually appealing drinks are a refreshing and sweet option that are perfect for hot summer days. They are great as a dessert after a meal. Kids love them as they are a fun and playful experience with bright colors and varied textures.

9. Black Sesame Latte

Black sesame coffee is a versatile beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold. When served hot, the aroma of the sesame seeds is amplified, providing a warm and comforting experience. The coffee can be brewed using various techniques, such as a French press or traditional coffee maker. When served cold, the coffee can be brewed and then cooled or served over ice with milk or cream.

The taste of black sesame coffee can vary depending on the recipe used to make it. Some people describe the taste as slightly sweet and nutty, with a hint of bitterness from the coffee. Others describe it as having a smoky, earthy flavor with a slightly creamy texture. Regardless of how it’s served, black sesame coffee is a unique and delicious drink. And most people, including Steven, don’t like it. I feel coffee lovers should try it at least once.

10. Fruit Ades

Korean fruit ades are a popular and refreshing drink that can be found in many Korean cafes. They are made by blending fresh fruit, water, and sweetener. The ingredients form a smooth and flavorful base. When mixed with carbonated water or still water to create a fizzy or non-fizzy drink.

Some popular ade flavors are lemonade, grapefruit, peach, pineapple, watermelon, mango, and strawberry. Tomato, chestnut, and basil lemon ades are some unusual flavors available at Korean cafes.

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Conclusion

Whether you prefer classic espresso-based drinks or more adventurous offerings like ginseng latte, yuja tea latte, or black sesame latte, there is a cafe drink for everyone. These drinks not only provide a delicious and satisfying experience. But they also celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Korea, making them a must-try for any cafe aficionado.

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