Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Night on Cafe Street

Or that's what I'll call it anyhow. Streets in Korea, well in Daegu at least, are named after what they offer. In this strange economic model where businesses are heavily concentrated in a small area and somehow manage to survive, it's a rather amusing naming mechanism. For example, on my walk to downtown, I pass Motorcycle Street, Towel Street, and Jewelry Street. A large sign indicates that you are about to embark upon a thoroughfare lined entirely in motorcycle shops. Other notable streets about town are Cell Phone Street, Car Parts Street, and Puppy Street. So I thought, what better name for a street over-saturated in coffee shops than Cafe Street? Make it so, Number One.

My favorite brunch spot, daily bread, is found on Cafe Street. Also on the street are multiple modern, artsy-looking coffee shops offering everything from simple cappuccinos to full meals. On this particular spring evening, I planned to dedicate a few hours to finishing a book I recently began. (It was David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day. No, I don't usually like Sedaris. And though I didn't love this particular selection, though a few of the anecdotes were entertaining, I set out to finish what I began.) After a few strolls back and forth down the length of the street, I settled on a particular cafe that I'd stopped into before on my Quest for Waffles, only to discover that there were, in fact, no waffles to be had. However, they did offer what I sought at the moment, which was an excellent cup of coffee.

Khaldi Coffee is the most legit coffee house I've seen in Korea. You enter through a glass door in an all-glass facade: very modern, very chic. The interior is dimly lit (which I found unfortunate for my reading, but found just the right spot where the light was sufficient.) Pretty perfect place for a date. The high vaulted ceiling is reminiscent of an old Western lodge, with large beams spanning the length of the roof and really opening up the interior. I sat down at a table near the window and in front on the roasting room (yes! they roast their own beans in house!). I was given a menu and perused through the copious offerings of hand drip coffee made with beans from around the world, a true rarity in Daegu.
Cafe interior.
In-house coffee bean roaster. It look a bit like K-9.
Being particularly inept at making any decision when it comes to comestibles, I asked the server which coffee he would recommend, which was the best. He pointed to a offering that cost a rather hefty 7,000 won. For a cup of coffee. That's like $6.50 for a cup of brewed coffee. "Smell is flower." "Ethiopia, you know?" "Koke, you know?" I didn't know, but nodded in understanding despite my ignorance. After all, he was rather cute. But I thought what the hell, I'm here to try what they do best. So I ponied up the won and returned to my table to await my coffee which better be sprinkled with gold shavings, or at least come with a damn cookie. While feeling the initial pangs of buyer's remorse, I read to pass the time until my joe arrived.
Koke Organic: Take One
It did so about 12 minutes later in a small but lovely orange tea cup with gold filigree decoration on the inside. It was a proper, beautiful tea cup filled with what I hoped would be the best coffee I'd ever tasted. The server awaited my response, reassuring me that the "smell is flower."  I feigned smelling the said notes of flowers (all I smelled was coffee and money). I took a sip. It was good coffee, not the best, but good. I sucked it up and returned to my book.

I tried earnestly to savor the precious few ounces of coffee before they got cold. As I reluctantly downed the last sip, I thought, well, I guess I can still hang here for awhile and finish my book. As I enjoyed my personal time, I noticed a man enter the roasting room behind my table and set to work crafting blends of coffee. After he got through a few batches, he stopped by my table and asked, "Refill?" I was stunned and relieved. I said, "OK!" And after a bit of confusion and consultation with a server who spoke partial English, I thought we were in business for some more coffee. I was going to get my money's worth! Well, sort of. About 15 minutes passed and still no more coffee in my little orange demitasse. Ten pages later, the server arrived with a large, red, gold-rimmed cup of hot coffee. Thank you, Coffee Gods! Happier with my investment, I set back into my book with a renewed spirit.
Refill of Sighs
After I finished my reading, I snapped a few photos of the establishment (which had quickly filled up with patrons seeking coffee touched by the hands of Midas himself, or at least which bore such a price tag), and left with every intention of returning. Only next time I'll be sure to go with a more affordable espresso.

1 comment:

  1. At first I thought it was perhaps Kopi Luwak until you explained that it was only 6.50... That coffee is 50 bucks a cup though!