Cafe culture is alive and well in Busan. Whilst there are many popular coffee chains — Ediya Coffee, Hands Coffee, Angel-in-us — there are also independent establishments all over the city where you can get your coffee fix, sate a sweet tooth, or spend a relaxing afternoon with a book and a chamomile tea. Here’s our tried and (rigorously) tested list of the best cafes in town.
Old and new collide in this hidden gem of a cafe. There are a handful of tables, and the rest of the seating is in two tatami mat-floored rooms tucked at one side of the cafe. Decidedly contemporary, hip decor ensures that the space never feels old-fashioned. It’s close to Gwangalli Beach, in the expat-friendly Millak area. Whilst the menu isn’t enormous, it’s well-crafted, with some interesting touches. Try their milk tea with grapefruit.
Although Waveon Coffee is a little bit of a trek to get to — it’s located in Gijang, midway between Haeundae and Ulsan City — it’s a good spot to head to for lazy afternoons. It’s on the coast, so you could combine a visit here with one of the nearby beaches. The cafe’s standout design feature is its contemporary, bare-concrete architecture, which gives visitors sweeping sea views from floor-to-ceiling windows on two levels. It roasts its own coffee beans in a small roastery by the side of the cafe and serves a small menu of cakes and desserts which are all made in-house. Be aware that it may be busy on weekends and holidays, as it’s a popular spot.
This cafe is hands-down the hippest place to get your caffeine fix in the Busan Station area. It’s in the site of former clinic Baekje Hospital (built in 1922, and notable for being entirely Korean-designed and built, this was Busan’s first private hospital), and the cafe’s interior retains many original features. Brown Hands’ overall vibe is shabby-chic; a modern, Instagram-friendly aesthetic is created by the contemporary furniture, exposed brickwork, and hipster-looking staff . They have a range of coffee beans, teas, other drinks and some cakes.
Serving some of Busan’s best-presented food and drinks, Before Sunset is Instagrammable to the max. All its cakes and desserts are freshly prepared in-house, with oodles of fresh fruit and healthy ingredients. Vintage wooden furniture adds to the cafe’s DIY vibe, as do handwritten signs for the ever-changing menu. It has two sister cafes, Before Sunrise and Eternal Sunshine, which share Before Sunset’s hip, welcoming vibe.