Retail in Asia

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Where to stop for a coffee, tea, or a quick snack in South Korea?

While thinking of South Korea, coffee may not be the first to cross your mind, but coffee culture is a big deal in South Korea.

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Based on the numbers given by the Korean Economic Institute of America, South Koreans consumed an average of 12.3 cups of coffee per week in 2019, with a coffee consumption per capita of 2.3 kg per year.

To satisfy South Korean’s growing demand for coffee, the coffee market has expanded all across the country. It is estimated that there are over 70,000 coffee shops. According to Statista, South Korea has a revenue in coffee segment of US$10,281 million in 2020 and the market is expected to grow annually by 10.9%.

For the ones not enjoying coffee, there is still some nice tea or snack concepts to browse.

A list of top 10 popular F&B concepts in South Korea as of today:


Starbucks Korea
Source: Starbucks

Starbucks Korea opened its first store in 1999. Since 2011, a whole acceleration in rolling out stores started, and it has been opening about 80 new premises a year. South Korea is one of the countries with the highest number of Starbucks Reserve outlets today. 

On 24th July, 2020, Starbucks celebrated its 21st anniversary in South Korea by opening the market’s largest Starbucks store in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggido near the scenic Namhan River. Spanning three stories and over 1,203 square meters, the new store is a reflection of Starbucks commitment to offering more ways for customers in Korea to enjoy the Starbucks Experience.

Starbucks also has worked closely with the Cultural Heritage Administration since 2009 to preserve and promote traditional Korean culture.


Gongcha korea
Source: GongCha

GongCha Korea Co. Ltd was first established in 2011. In 2013, it opened its 100th store in Apgujeong Station and by 2018, it had already opened over 450 stores.

GongCha Korea Co. acquired its global headquarters Royal Tea Taiwan Co., as part of its efforts to expand its presence in the world in 2017.

A Twosome Place

A Twosome Place
Source: Shutterstock

A Twosome Place is a coffee house based in South Korea and owned by the CJ Foodville of CJ Group. The name stands for “Two” of us having “Some” dessert at a “Place”.

A Twosome Place opened its first branch in 2002 and by 2019, it has over 900 shops in South Korea. It has also expanded into China and Southeast Asia.


Ediya Korea
Source: Ediya

Ediya Coffee is a local South Korean coffee house chain that opened its first store in 2001 in Chung-Ang University. Ediya stands for a tribe in Ethiopia, which is the origin of its coffee. Ediya offers coffee at a low price and the chain focuses on opening up in small shops in subprime locations.

Today, it has over 3,000 stores all across the country. They celebrated the opening of its 3,000th store in Daejeon in late 2019. In addition, Ediya has one of the largest coffee shops located in Seoul with its Ediya Lab located near Hakdong Station.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue bottle korea
Source: Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle Coffee was founded in Oakland, California in 2002. It opened its first cafe in Korea on 3rd May, 2019, marking a new phase of growth in Asia. 

To be able to survive in the highly competitive environment, Blue Bottle Korea differentiates itself with “its rigorous attention to quality and sustainable practices, bringing expressive blends and rare single origins sourced through direct trade to the county,” as stated by Blue Bottle Coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee now runs six shops in South Korea, located in Seongsu-dong, Samcheong, Yeoksam, Apgujeong, Gwanghwamun, and Hannam.


Source: Seoul Searching

Osculloc is a Korean premium tea brand since 1979, owned by the cosmetics giant AmorePacific. The first tea house opened in 2004 and by 2019, it has over 42 stores in Korea. 

Osculloc also opened the first tea museum in Korea in 2001 to introduce and spread the Korean tea culture.

Hollys Coffee

Hollys Coffee Korea
Source: Hollys Coffee

Hollys Coffee is a specialty coffee chain headquartered in South Korea. It opened its first espresso shop in 1998, focusing on coffee, tea, and hot specialty drinks. By 2006, it opened its 100th store in Gangnam Station.

In 2008, the company introduced its Korean cafe to the world with its first international store in Los Angeles, USA. Since then, it has expanded into China and Southeast Asia. Hollys Coffee also started its own barista academy called the Hollys Coffee Academy in 2011, two years after reaching 200 stores in South Korea. Today, there are over 550 locations in South Korea.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts Korea
Source: Shutterstock

Dunkin’ Donuts is an American coffee and donuts company. It opened its first Korean store in 1993 and it has been one of the most successful American franchises in the country. Today, it has over 900 stores operating in South Korea.

Dunkin’ Donuts does not only offer donuts and coffee to the South Korean customers, it expanded its presence in the market by offering a number of unexpected items, such as beer and finger food.

Paik Dabang (Paik’s Coffee)

Paikdabang Korea
Source: Paik Dabang

Paik Dabang literally means “Paik’s Coffee” in Korean. It is a relatively young coffee shop that started in 2006 in Seoul, however, it is one of Korea’s most popular coffee chains, especially among students and seniors, for being “cheap, big, and delicious”. Today, it has over 680 stores across the country.

Paik Dabang’s popularity in the coffee industry also allowed it to expand its market globally. In 2016, it opened its first international store in Singapore. Its success in the Singaporean market allowed it to further open two other outlets in the same year.

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Coffee Bean Korea

Coffee bean Korea
Source: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Coffee Bean Korea was established in 2000 by signing a franchise contract with International Coffee & Tea in the United States. There are over 80 stores across Korea in 2007.

(Source: The Cup)