Tea-themed, traditional drink cafes are enjoying a boom in Korea, but it is hard to find one that has become a huge hit. That is probably due to the fact that tea-based lattes made using Korean traditional ingredients like mugwort and black sesame are not an easy sell to Koreans whose coffee consumption is one of the highest in the world. Not only that, pairing of those drinks with Western desserts is difficult..
Sonsudam, a small Asian dessert cafe with unique latte varieties located in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, is a pleasant discovery.
Originally a studio that focused on making flower cakes and which has offered one-day classes for those who want to learn to make them, Sonsudam began selling coffee that went well with soft and sweet, eye-catching flower cakes made of organic ingredients and rice flour.
Sonsudam’s flower cakes change seasonally. In fall, pumpkin and Hongro red apple are used as ingredients, for example.
Compared to the clay-like, pastel-colored exterior that mimics the taste of the ingredients used for coloring, the fillings inside come in three different varieties – injeolmi, red bean and pea. To balance the sweetness of handmade desserts, Sonsudam’s drinks are a lot less sweet than they look.
Mugwort latte and black sesame latte come with dango, or Japanese ball-shaped rice cakes on a skewer. The best way to enjoy dango wth the lattes, which use mugwort or black sesame-based milk foam with coffee shots, is to dip it into the creamy milk foam, foregoing the honey which is served with it. The dango’s chewy yet plain taste is enhanced when it is roasted on the small, portable brazier which is brought to the table when a dango coffee set menu is ordered.
There are fruit ades made using strawberry, omija, or magnolia berry, as well as matcha latte, choco latte and milk tea.
Sonsudam is open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to midnight on weekends.
Seoul has over 25,000 cafes with many opening and closing each year. The Korea Herald visits unique cafes in Seoul that satisfy people’s taste for both coffee and atmosphere, with the aim of experiencing coffee drinking as a culture. – Ed.