Bordering the bustling Hongdae and Yeonnam-dong area is the slightly-less developed, up-and-coming town of Yeonhui-dong, best known now for its quirky, personality-filled cafes and stores that dot it. One shining star among the bunch is Anthracite.
The cafe has several other branches elsewhere in Seoul that have long been talked about for their coffee and the immaculately-designed interior. The ambiance of the space offers its avid crowd of visitors a sight to remember. Its Hannam-dong branch, in particular, is very well-known. Patrons grace their doors for the same, widely-loved coffee and desserts that are offered by all their branches.
I happened to visit the Yeonhui branch of Anthracite on the first day of heavy snow of the season in Seoul. My mission that day was simple; it was finals week, and I had dragged myself halfway across Seoul in search of good, soul-awakening coffee and a good working atmosphere that would hopefully awaken my much more productive alter ego.
I entered the second floor, where the majority of customers were sitting. There I noted that many of them seemed to have come for the same reason as myself. There were plenty of thick, academic journals scattered haphazardly across the tables. Laptop screens flickering low, cursors darting across the screens swiftly as their owners punched out sentence after sentence.
The thing that struck me first was curious – heartwarming at second glance. The second floor consisted predominantly of two long benches, with only a few single-seater tables bunched together near to the back of the place.
The first long bench was low and situated right in front of the window which ran the entire length of the wall. It was meant to be sat on, cross-legged and shoes kicked off, with friends and family. While the other was equipped with plenty of high-backed pull-out chairs. There, the majority of the inhabitants were tired university students, including myself, who drudged the day away, noses buried in our books.
Though the cafe was dark with walls painted in black and lowlight bathing the space. There was this eerie sense of togetherness in sharing a table with so many others, all working on our individual tasks yet connected in some curious way.
And all amongst that, snow began to fall. At the wide window before the long bench, where couples and families sat talking in hushed voices, staring up enchanted by the white snow starting to pile up inches thick, you could see a scene that created the perfect frame to the pure white picture of the snowy day in front of us.
Many a head looked up from their work, looking up at the beauty for a long moment before lowering their head back down. It was as if they had gotten strength from the mere sight of the rare scene straight out of a holiday card. I will be the first to admit that I spent a lot more time staring at the sight before me instead of doing the work I was meant to.
Warm, sipping from a wonderfully fragrant hot latte, and with pleasant music piping softly from the rafters. I daresay that, busy with deadlines, I didn’t plan for an experience like this – but the universe gave me a small surprise in the form of that one magical day. That magical sight of snow falling gently down from the sky, framed by the window at Anthracite.
Anthracite Address: 135 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Operating Hours: 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Directions: From Yeonhui Elementary School Bus Stop (7017, 7738, Seodaemun 08) cross the street. The cafe will be located directly in front of the crosswalk.
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