One Way Among Seoul’s Thousands of Cafes

In Travel Guides, USA
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Walking the streets of Seoul, South Korea, people are bombarded with option after option if they want a cup of coffee. The hardest thing to find, actually, would be a standard cup o’ joe, but with a bubbling cafe culture diverse in different ways, you won’t miss percolator coffee all that much. Among all those options, there is a lovely cafe called One Way.

One Way to Taste Seoul’s Cafe Culture

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I found myself in One Way after scrolling the latte art hashtag on Instagram and finding some of the most beautiful work I had ever seen. Naturally, I wanted to drink this art, not just see it on my phone.

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A quick search about the cafe led me to three important facts:

  1. It was in Seoul, where I live.
  2. It was super affordable – a latte is less than 3 bucks!
  3. The baristas are top-ranked in Korea for their amazing latte art!!!!

The owner of the cafe, Elly, showcases her latte art work on her Instagram. She is absolutely amazing at pouring designs! Just check out her Instagram if you don’t believe me. Her flying heart pour is absolutely stunning! Even if you don’t live in Seoul, her account is worth following just to see what she’ll come up with next.

If you’re sheepish about going to small cafes because you can’t speak Korean, don’t be. I overheard Elly having a lengthy conversation with some English-speaking Hong Kongites – you’ll be just fine. She’s attentive, sweet & nice every time I visit. 

Dash is another one of the baristas at the cafe. He, too, is super talented! My favorite of all of his work is his flower pour.  If you, like me, follow a lot of baristas on Instagram, you might see Dash hanging out with some of them – he often pops up in pictures from various coffee competitions all around the world. Cool, right? I’m not one to get too starstruck, but I’m so happy I stumbled upon these baristas & their hidden away cafe.

One Way: The Cafe for Latte Art

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When I have ordered hot lattes, I’ve usually ended up with a heart design or, on a lucky day, a beautiful swan design. You can get a hot latte plain, or with hazelnut or vanilla syrup if you’re craving something a bit sweeter. And none of them will cost you more than about three dollars – so feel free to get more than one if you plan to spend the day there like I usually do!

I’ve heard that the cafe also offers classes for aspiring baristas, but I’m not sure of the cost so you’ll have to ask Elly or Dash on their Instagrams!

One Way: The Cafe for Relaxing

This place isn’t just great for the latte art, though I will happily admit that’s the main draw. It’s also set back in the middle of, well, nowhere in Seoul terms. From the subway station, you’ll have to walk 10-15 minutes to find One Way, but it’s worth it. The fact that the cafe is set back in a residential neighborhood means that you’ll always be able to grab a seat, and the vibe of people hanging out there is familiar and comfortable.

And the ambiance for relaxing in a seat at One Way is great!oneway13

They have everything you need to study, read, or just spend a day chilling out:

  • Many plugs
  • Super reliable wifi
  • A clean bathroom (though it is outside of the building)
  • A nice looking interior
  • Great smells!

The smells you’ll encounter in One Way are no joke! They recently set up a roasting machine, so the smell of coffee is so strong and delightful that I always take one more deep breath before heading home when leaving.

The charm of many of Seoul’s small cafes is in the ability to get lost in them, and One Way does not lack this wonderful feature.

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oneway5One Way: The Cafe for Toast

Kaya toast is one of Singapore’s most favorite foods to snack on alongside tea or coffee, and it’s becoming a bit of a trend in some of Seoul’s cafes. Happily, One Way is one of those cafes! Their kaya toast is deliciously thin, and the balance between butter and kaya in the bread is perfect.

If you don’t know, Kaya is a kind of coconut and egg based jam. It’s kind of impossible to explain, but you should give it a try if you haven’t had it before. It’s got a creamy texture that blends perfectly with the butter. Kaya toast isn’t served warm, and the butter inside is usually slight cold which just gives it a refreshing quality that’s surprising and delicious.

As it’s a bit dry, even with the jam, I do recommend ordering a drink with your kaya toast to enjoy it best! I like to have mine with a cold drink, heavy on milk, as it helps wash down the bread. That’s up to personal taste, though, so choose whatever drink you’d have with a scone. It’s not that dry, but you might as well compensate a bit.

One Way also serves bingsu (a Korean dessert that’s based around shaved ice) as well as some breads and pizzas, but I’ve never tried anything besides the kaya toast so I won’t try to sell you on that.

I will, however, say the Gorgonzola Pizza looked (and smelled) delicious when a study group at the table next to mine ordered it!

One Way: The Cafe You Should Visit

I’m getting thirsty for one of One Way’s lattes just writing this post – it’s that memorable. I don’t typically frequent the same cafes over and over again because this city has so many to offer, but One Way is a big exception to that rule. Each time I go there, I wish I lived a little bit closer so I could spend my evenings and mornings…and lunches in their quaint cafe.

If you need a better reason to make it to the trip, you should note that Children’s Grand Park is a walkable (I’m talking 20 to 30 minutes) distance from One Way. Why not hit the park in the morning, then head to One Way afterwards for a relaxing coffee? Children’s Grand Park is worth seeing, even without children, and the combination of the two just makes sense!

Take the subway to Children’s Grand Park  and head out exit 1 to get to the park. Once finished, walk north from the entrance to get to Gunja station. From there, follow the map below to One Way!

A typical day at One Way for me goes something like this:

  • Arrive at Gunja subway station
  • Enjoy the short walk to One Way
  • Order a hot latte
  • Admire the awesome latte art
  • Study, read, whatever for a few hours
  • Order a cold latte & kaya toast
  • Chill some more
  • Head home feeling much better than before, and only out about 10 bucks!

If you’re looking for a cafe with awesome charm, cheap drinks and tasty treats, One Way is the place for you to visit. It might be a bit off far from the typical hot spots of Seoul, but that only adds to it’s charm.

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Closing Tips:

  • Cafe One Way is closed on Mondays!
  • Before visiting, check Dash or Elly’s most recent posts on Instagram to make sure they’ll be open! When they close to attend coffee competitions, they always mention it in both Korean & English on their Instagrams.
  • If you don’t have wifi on your phone, make sure to screenshot the map below so you can find your way from the station to the cafe! When you hit the fork in the road, make sure you take the left, middle road and you’ll make it there once the hill starts to go back down.
  • Google Maps doesn’t work that well in Korea due to some regulatory laws, so I recommend using Naver Maps. It’s only in Korean, though. The station you need to go to is “Gunja (군자역) and the cafe’s address is 121-30 Junggok-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (서울 관진구 천호대로 119길 59).
  • Good luck, and make sure you take pictures of the beautiful art they make on your coffee!
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