Go to contents

Gangneung Coffee Olympics

Posted February. 13, 2018 07:55,   

Updated February. 13, 2018 07:55


In the 1980s, five or six coffee vending machines were lined up along the street near Anmok Beach in Gangneung City, Gangwon Province. Back then, young couples took coffee from the vending machines and enjoyed their dates. As more young people crowded in the area, the number of vending machines increased up to dozens in the 1990s. As each vending machine had slight difference in flavors, some people lined up to find the flavor they like. Since then, Anmok Beach has earned the nickname of “Vending Machine Coffee Street.”

Park Yi-choo, a Korean Japanese and a first generation barista, opened a coffee house named Bohemian in Daehangno, Seoul in 1988. During the era when people only drank instant coffee at old style coffee shops, Park made a starting point in spreading the culture of roasted coffee. After that, he was called “coffee master” among coffee lovers. Park moved his coffee house to Gangneung in the 2000s. Many baristas followed him and settled down in Gangneung, and real coffee houses, instead of vending machines, opened near Anmok Beach. At present, there are some 30 coffee shops on the 500-meter meter near the beach.

Gangneung has everything about coffee. Park’s roasting company of Bohemian, and roasting company and main store of Terarosa, which has an ambition to compete with Starbucks, are considered the prides of Gangneung coffee. The main store of Terarosa roasts 1.5 tons of coffee beans per day. There are coffee houses all over Gangneung and coffee museum and coffee farm in the outskirts of the city. The coffee farms grow the very first commercial coffee trees in South Korea. In Chodang Village, well-known for its bean curd, an old rice mill in the 1960s has been remodeled into a café and currently in business. A coffee pastry shaped like a coffee bean is also produced as a local specialty.

Hyon Song Wol, leader of North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra, visited the Gangneung Arts Center during the second week of February 2018, ordered coffee, saying, “I heard that Gangneung is famous for its coffee. I wanted to have coffee in Gangneung.” The coffee street near Anmok Beach is crowded with people who wish to enjoy coffee with the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. As Gangneung coffee has become a hot issue along with the Olympic Games, many coffee lovers call this Olympic Games “Gangneung Coffee Olympics.

Kwang-Pyo Lee kplee@donga.com