Much anticipated for years, Blue Bottle has now opened (many) doors in Korea. Koreans have long flocked to their stores in the US and Japan, now there seem to be new locations opening in Korea every few months. We visited the Yeoksam branch, right by Gangnam station.
The appeal is clear, or at least was, in the early days, but nowadays the size of the franchise is fairly impressive but also overwhelming. Not quite Starbucks yet, but definitely not a small and personal at all anymore. Lines are generally long (good for them) and there is often hardly room to stand (again, good for them).
Staff is well-trained and friendly but it is not a place to chat with your favorite barista.
The location in Yeoksam is nothing really special, but is the typical nice, clean and bright design that most of Blue Bottles cafes show.
As for beans for pour-over coffee, there is a blend and a single origin available, when we visited th single origin was from Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. Much more we couldn’t find out.
The brewing process was as expectd meticulous. Timer and scale were in full use, brown paper filters were not rinsed in in advance though (same protocol as everywhere, as BB says their brown filters dont have a paper after taste…).
All in all a good visit from a caffein point of view, but not a favorite experience, as it is just too busy, no chance to sit and not a very personable space – but that is all very subjective. In return, you will always get a very reliable standard product.