The Café Show in Seoul is Back and Bigger Than Ever

The massive Café Show in Seoul, South Korea is happening this week, drawing tens of thousands of attendees to this coffee-crazy city

Café Show Seoul
A beautiful fall day warms the Buddhist temple across the street from COEX, site of the Café Show in Seoul.

The 14th annual Café Show in Seoul opened on Thursday, November 12 and runs through the Sunday, the 15th. Over the course of the four days organizers expect in the neighborhood of 100,000 visits by attendees as they explore three levels of a trade show, classes, competitions, seminars, and more.

Café Show Seoul
Traditional flower arrangements welcome visitors to the Café Show trade show floor.

The sprawling Café Show has multiple levels of show floor where everything you might need for a café or a roastery has its own space. From dishtowels and hand sanitizer to coffee roasting machines, espresso machines, and green coffee importers, wondering the floors and aisles will bring you past wares and goods from hundreds of exhibitors.

Café Show Seoul
Speakers from the World Coffee Leaders Forum held a joint Q&A session at the end of the day Thursday.

Additionally, running concurrently with the Café Show in Seoul is the World Coffee Leaders Forum (WCLF). The WCLF invites distinguished speakers from across the globe to deliver interactive sessions and talks about coffee production, retailing and more, with different perspectives from around the world. 2010 World Barista Champion, Michael Phillips, from Blue Bottle Coffee Co, for example, lead a 3-hour session on coffee basics from the seed to the cup. He discussed farming, varietals, processing, roasting, and then gave a demonstration on coffee preparation.

Café Show Seoul
2010 World Barista Champion Michael Phillips from Blue Bottle Coffee leads a session on coffee from seed to cup.

The WCLF also hosted a session of Re:Verb, which included talks by Ben Kaminsky on café design, Isabella Raposeiras owner of Sao Paulo’s Coffee Lab on her strategy for marketing specialty coffee to consumers, Alex Berson, editor of among other gigs, spoke about the importance of hospitality, and Blue Bottle’s green coffee buyer, Stephen Vick, gave a presentation about his work at origin and the challenges facing coffee producers. Each session included ample time for questions with the audience.

Café Show Seoul
Talented baristas battle to see who will represent Korea in Dublin, Ireland in 2016 for the World Barista Championship.

Meanwhile out on the show floor, the 13th annual Korean Barista Championship looks for a champion to represent the county at the World Barista Championship next year in Dublin, Ireland, while other competitions crowned champions in latte art, cup tasters and more.

Café Show Seoul
WCE All Stars celebrate after completing the signature drink challenge. From left: Canadian Barista Champion, Ben Put; Hong Kong Barista Champion Chan Kwun Ho, 2015 World Latte Art Champion Australia’s Caleb Cha, and French Barista Champion Charlotte Malval.

Additionally, the World Coffee Events All Stars, which includes national champion baristas, latte artists, and WBC finalists, worked a brew bar, and battled each other in challenges like the secret ingredient challenge where teams of two had only a few minutes to pick some random ingredients to make signature drinks. The results were evaluated by the audience members, who then voted for the winner.

Café Show Seoul
2015 World Barista Champion, Sasa Sestic, of Ona Coffee in Canberra, Australia, gave a Coffee Talk about his experience as a longtime barista competitor.

Friday night Barista Magazine hosted a party at the Pancake Epidemic with Stumptown Coffee and La Marzocco, where members of the Korean barista community had a fun throwdown with international baristas and coffee pros, while enjoying hanging out with each, drinking beer, and eating hot dogs!

Café Show Seoul
Seoul baristas gathered at the Pancake Epidemic Friday night for fun, beers, hot dogs, community, and of course a throwdown!

Seoul is just mad about coffee, and the energy is evident even in the massive halls of the convention center. When the WBC is here in 2017, this is just a guess, but it’s going to make this enormous edition of the event seem small in comparison.


About Ken 263 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.