I love coffee. Along with the majority of college students, it gets us going for a long day of lectures and keeps us up on those nights before the final paper or exam is due. To me, a morning without coffee is like a book without words, empty and meaningless.

Upon hearing that my destination, Seoul, South Korea, was not only home to the most Starbucks stores in the world, but also abundant in something I had never heard of called “themed” cafés, I was both elated and curious to start exploring these new places of caffeine consumption.

After about a week of being in a jetlag-induced daze, I finally came across Bau House Dog Cafe, located in Hongdae (Hapjeong subway station exit 3, address: 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul). As an avid dog lover, and one who is currently halfway across the globe from my own dogs, I was keen on the idea of getting to enjoy a cup of coffee with man’s best friend and to experience a Korean “themed” cafe. It would be a change from simply just ordering a Grande sized something in a place where earth toned decor was the only “theme”.

Arriving before they opened in order to avoid crowds (it’s a popular place with tourists and also locals who can bring their own dogs to play with the cafe dogs), I was soon let in and ordered a café latte. They only sell beverages so be sure to have something to eat beforehand–beverages run from 5,000-10,000 Won ($4-8 USD). I also bought a bag of doggy treats (about 5,000 Won/$4 USD).

There were two gated off areas to sit in, one exclusively for small dogs and puppies, and the other for bigger dogs with some smaller dogs, I chose the latter. As soon as I sat down at my booth, a small dog jumped onto my table and fell asleep. This is when I knew I had found my happy place here in Korea. In all, there were about sixteen to twenty dogs sleeping, playing, and roaming around. The place is kept clean by the Bau House staff who would clean up any dog messes as soon as they happened. So yes, you will smell some disinfectant. However, I no longer noticed the smell as I was happily sipping a latte with a pack of happy hounds.

I took out the bag of dog treats and instantly became the most popular person in the room. After dispersing my bag of treats amongst the dogs, I was content in sipping my coffee and chilling with the little guy on my table and a beautiful Alaskan Malamute at my side. 

Leaving the café I had to step back into reality- the hustle and bustle of the mega city of Seoul- after having entered a world of playful and frolicking dogs. But I left Bau House Dog Cafe feeling recharged. This is why “themed” cafés have become so popular in Korea as they provide people with a place to relax, to socialize, to escape from one’s world and hang with some dogs for a while.

If dogs are not your thing, there are also cat, raccoon, and even sheep cafés! Other “themed” cafés include those where you can build with Legos, read comic books, be in the worlds of Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, or sip cappuccino in travel inspired cafés that are outfitted to look like the inside of an airplane or that have actual Volkswagen buses parked inside of them.

For anyone visiting Seoul, especially on a budget, finding a café with a theme that is naturally Instagrammable is not only a great way to relax but also affords a great opportunity to partake of the unique cafe culture in Seoul.

Seoul Coffee Culture: Themed Cafés was last modified: April 25th, 2016 by Allenda Witzel