Tom Eats, Jen Cooks, Neither Fact Checks

Tom Eats, Jen Cooks, Neither Fact Checks

Tom and Jen, two DSLR toting Brits recently toured the City of Roses and blogged about all the great coffee places they visited. All was well and good, but they had the audacity to say this:

“Portland has a population of just 500,000 people but it somehow has as many international level coffee bars as world cities like London, 10 times more than Hong Kong and a million times more than Seoul.

Our tut tut alarms are ringing! Tut tut! Tut tut! There are “literally thousands” of cafes in Seoul, an amount CNN referred to as “staggering” and “enormous”. South Korean cafe culture is arguably the most vibrant in the world – look at all these beautiful cafes on Travel and Leisure! Need a set of features more driven by quality? Aaron Frey’s FRSHGRND has been the friggin’ gold standard of Seoul coffee blogging for years!

We’re all for hyperbole – we love it to death – but let’s try and keep it in the margins. Seoul has more coffee shops than Portland – many, many more – and the whole thing is rendered as extra-strange because Tom and Jen have obviously spent time in Asia, as per many blog posts on their website. Tut tut!

Do you think we’ve finally gone too far? Are our tut tut’s unfounded? Sound off in the comments below!



  1. moon

    13 April

    There are so many coffee places there! I’m definitely going back. Put that on my bucket list!

  2. Just seeing this article for the first time. Seems that an important caveat, “international level cafes,” was missed in the quoted piece. While we might have minor differences on what constitutes ‘international level’ quality, I would happily refer anyone seeking current Seoul cafe (and restaurant) tips to Tom & Jen :)

  3. Amit

    4 August

    It seems that Seoul is one of the best place to visit for coffee. Aaron is my very new friend through his website and love for coffee, but now I feel like to visit this Coffeelicious place.

  4. Tom

    21 August

    Rather amusingly I would note that your last article on Seoul which links to Frshgrnd’s update piece on Korean cafes even refers to us…

    Always good to fact check before you write a ‘snark’ piece. Maybe even good to get in touch to see if there is anything more positive you could write.

  5. TomEats

    21 August

    Hey – sorry a friend directed me here. If you had left a comment on the blog would have explained further… also if you had read the “about” section on the blog you would see we live in Seoul so are pretty familiar with the coffee scene here. Oh and I am London and Jen is American…

    Interesting you refer to Aaron/ Frshgrnd and link to that post. If you read Aaron’s post you will see he uses pictures and details of coffee shops from our blog and contributed by us.

    So, yes, there are a lot of coffee shops here. The problem is 95% have pretty horrible coffee but beautiful design. Even that 10mag post you refer to – as you can see from the comments – struggles to find 10 really good ones. I am sure if you ask Aaron he will be happy to confirm this.

    I would say there are roughly 5 to 10 great shops and one world class roaster – Coffee Libre which just opened a cafe this month in Hongdae.

    Maybe your tut tut alarms would have gone off less if you had read the articles you link to…

    If you ever come to Seoul happy to show you round as I don’t think you’ll find CNNGo or Travel & Leisure that great for indepth coffee reviews…


  6. tom

    15 August

    I like that they made Stumptown analogous to Monmouth.

    “…Stumptown Coffee Roasters is synonymous with good coffee and can probably damn well be considered to be one of its modern parents. The London equivalent is probably Monmouth.”

  7. Reginald

    15 August

    I was in Seoul last year for a conference and my mind was blown! There are so many coffee places there! I’m definitely going back. Put that on my bucket list!

  8. Jasper

    15 August

    It’s not that I’m against the Koreans, per se. It’s just that their food don’t agree with my gut. No shame here.

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