Coffee is kind of a big deal in South Korea. The coffee culture itself compels the best of us to show off our frothy beverages all over Instagram like a reflex. I'm actually drinking black coffee that I brewed with my Bodum french press about 30 minutes ago, because as a hipster that's what my life has come to.
I remember growing up and not thinking twice about the coffee my parents drank before leaving in the morning, not once imagining that the beverage they were walking out with could carry so much cultural significance outside of the kitchen.
Today, coffee has taken a whole new role in society. It's not only a status symbol--you're cooler with a Starbucks cup in your hand--but it's widely available in more forms and adaptations than I can count. South Korea is an excellent hub to see this in action. From the type of coffee you drink to what you put in it, below are just a few innovations and trends that have emerged recently that have taken coffee to the next level.
Oat milk is the new almond milk
Perhaps the newest trend to hit coffee drinkers' palettes is the use of oat milk as a dairy alternative. Soy milk and almond milk have long dominated this market, but especially now that today's coffee drinkers are far more conscious about the ingredients they're using. Oat milk is the new almond milk, in that it's another option to customize your fancy coffees. However, what is setting oat milk apart among coffee connoisseurs is that its flavor is a far more harmonious complement to coffee than other plant-based milk alternatives. Its consistency and flavor are the closest to dairy milk. But even better is its environmental impact -- oat milk requires far, far, far less water to grow than almonds. I haven't personally tried it with coffee yet, but it's something to consider next time you're ordering at your local coffee shop.
Mix-coffee in a rush
While the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions coffee is "cafés," sometimes the idea of physically finding one for the mere enjoyment of sitting in a rad establishment with a group of socialites seems like a lot of work. At least for those of us who just can't find the time. Korea is on top of that, too; it has been for quite a while. Maxim, anyone?
Instant coffee has been around forever--I have tons of packets stashed everywhere--but recently South Korea took that a step further. Mix-coffee is instant coffee with all the other additional things you would put in it like cream and sugar, wrapped into one convenient packet. That's right, us lazy folk can now cut even more time out of the coffee making process with this idea. It's like using a Keurig but a lot simpler.
Stacks on stacks
On the other hand, sometimes you just want to add a ton of unnecessary (but totally necessary) stuff to your coffee for absolutely no reason at all. To that, we have this idea of shoving pastries and desserts into coffee mugs as part of an order. For many people dunking cookies or bread into hot beverages like hot chocolate and coffee is a natural part of the process and shops like Old Ferry Donut do that for you. Is it a bit excessive? Yes. Do I want to try it for myself? Absolutely.
What are some recent coffee trends that you've noticed? If you're a coffee drinker, do you prefer to keep your coffee simple or be a bit adventurous? Let us know!