When it comes to putting breathtaking cafes within a semi-brutalist setting, Korea, Seoul in particular, may just have the market cornered. Whether its Anthracite’s stunning multi-level cafe, Center Coffee’s Seoul Forest location, More Than Less’s collaborative space with Berlin’s Bonanza Coffee, or the gobsmacking beauty of Travertine, so many cafes in the South Korean capitol have mastered the art of bringing concrete alive and turning it into something deeply inviting.
Where else but Seoul would you expect to find a cafe where unfinished concrete brings so much life and personality to the ambience? That’s exactly what you’ll find at Upstanding Coffee, a new three-floor cafe in the Haebangchon neighborhood.
As reported by Arch Daily, the space is a sparse 78 square meters total, roughly 840 square feet. A stainless steel exterior blending with the existing concrete structure gives the building a certain urban austerity. But what provides warmth and brings the building together, quite literally, is the lauan plywood spiral staircase connecting the three floors, the centerpiece of the entire building.
Upstanding Coffee owner Sang Min Lee (who goes by Hyde) tells Sprudge that even he was taken by the aesthetics the staircase provides. “When I first entered the cafe after staircase was assembled, I was impressed by the overwhelming form of it, that dominates the small space. I’m very glad that it’s not only me but also other people also like this unique staircase.”
On the bottom floor, you can grab a coffee—made as espresso via a Synesso Hydra MVP espresso machine and Victoria Arduino Mythos One grinder or as pour-over via Mahlkönig EK43 and AeroPress—before heading to the second level for bench seating that continues the use of lauan plywood. On the third floor, a small outdoor patio allows customers to look out over the rest of the neighborhood.
It’s all frankly more than my wanderlusting heart can handle and is giving me some serious yearning for the days of globetrotting coffee adventures. Mark my words: I will get back to Seoul one day, I’ll do all the chimek, and I’m visiting every architectural wonder cafe in the city. Upstanding Coffee will be the first stop.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
All photos courtesy of Upstanding Coffee, used with permission