Trends in Korea tend to hit Seoul and Busan first and then filter their way down to the provinces. About five years ago I went to my first Starbucks in Korea, I think it was in Haeyundae or Gangnam or something like that. Seriously it doesn't matter Starbucks are usually all the same. Eventually Jinju got it's first Starbucks. Holly's coffee had been here as long as I can remember, but they only served espresso drinks.
If I wanted to get a brewed coffee I either had to go to McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts. The problem with Dunkin Donuts back then - and maybe now - is that they would pour a half cup of coffee and then water it down and add sugar, without asking. Also a long time ago McDonalds used to make some pretty great brewed coffee for only 1000 or 15
00 won a cup, but then they switched to that Lavazza shit and everything went downhill.
Then about three years ago, Jinju started getting coffee shops that would roast the coffee beans and make hand drip coffee. Those places were okay. The coffee tasted much better than Starbucks, not as good as Dunkin, - this is my opinion I really don't care what other people think - but at 4000 won a cup it usually wasn't worth the trouble.
Another problem that my school isn't in Jinju proper, it is in a suburb that has recently seen a small explosion in population due to farmers selling there rice fields to developers. The nicest thing about this place, Geumsan, is that it is quiet during school hours. I can go have lunch at a wide variety of places and be the only customer, or one of a sparse number of customers, so there had never really been a need for things like coffee or donut shops.
Last year a Lotteria opened, though. A long time ago there used to be a Lotteria in Geumsan, but that closed and became a G.S. 25. The place where the Lotteria opened used to be a soon dubu place. That place was good but it was dirty and the pluming in the bathroom was a bit suspicious in that the sink faucet was mounted with a pile of duct tape.
Lotteria provided me with passable cappuccinos, they weren't sweet and they tasted coffee like. Last month a donut shop opened. Ring Pang Donuts makes excellent Americanos, great cappuccinos, and I also purchased my favorite mug there. I bring that mug with me whenever I buy coffee there, and when I'm at home I drink beer and wine out of it.
Today or sometime last week saw the opening of "Fall into Coffee." This is the second proper coffee shop that I have seen in Geumsan. Before this place opened, there was another coffee shop that doubled as a dress shop. A student's mother also owned the place, and their house was above the coffee shop - they had an awesome house by Korean standards, it looked like an American house. I didn't want to go there for that reason.
Anyway fall into coffee reminds me of my coffee shops from my college days in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo has the famous "Water Street Coffee Joint," which I would frequent throughout my college time, but the places that I went to to study and read newspapers were "The Space," and "Rocketstar Cafe."
The Space was opened by a collective of artists or - something like that - who would take turns volunteering to run the place. The coffee was great and they also had a stage for musical and dramatic performances. The place was pretty fucking awesome, but they had to close because they were next to a urology clinic that didn't appreciate the noise from the concerts. So the owners of the clinic bought the building and kicked "The Space," out. The Rocket Star was started by a guy who would occasionally work at the "The Space." This enterprising young man was also pretty big into the Kalamazoo moped scene and ran a moped sale and repair shop while running the Rocket Star. Unfortunately, the Rocket Star's building got condemned and they got kicked out, but that was after the original owner sold the shop and moved to a different town. Both The Space, and The Rocket Star had big windows and good coffee.
Geumsan's "Fall into Coffee," also has a nice view of Geumsan ro and some nice houses. The interior is cozy and feels like a great place to read a novel or chat with friends. The coffee was good as well. The owner definitely appreciates coffee. The process by which she made my coffee seemed a bit exhaustive.
I chose an Ethiopian Yrgachef coffee from a menu. She put some whole beans in a grinder and put the grounds into a melitta. The with the care of a tea maker warmed a tea cup with hot water from water heater. She then transfered some kind of special water that she had boiling in a small Gama Sot
She took this water and placed it in a brass teapot which she used to pour over the coffee grounds. The whole process took some time that they might find taxing in the future if they ever get super busy, but the resulting coffee satisfied my after lunch coffee jonesing. I don't know if I can frequent this place everyday, but I think I can divide my time between it and Ring Pang. Both places offer their advantages for when I where I want to eat lunch. Lunch at the Kimbab house can be serviced by a trip to Ring Pang while a hot bowl of pork soup or a plate of Chinese noodles can be followed by a fall into a coffee cup. I rate Fall into Coffee highly because it is the only place in Geumsan where I can get drip coffee. Also, in typical ajuma fashion the owner of fall into coffee gave me a second cup of coffee for free, and also offered me a free cappuccino, which I declined out of fear of a coffee stomachache.