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Seoul Searching: Five Things We Learnt (+ Recap Video)

It's not always that we get an opportunity to travel and experience new things as a team. It's not always that massive coffee events happen in the region. When the idea of traveling to Seoul for the Cafe Show 2017 and the World Barista Championships 2017 occurred, we quickly jumped on it.

Here are our five take-aways from our recent #YSeoulSearching trip.

  • You can be small and beautiful at the same time.

Walking around Seoul visiting so many different cafes left us so much more inspired and amazed. There were big warehouse-like spaces such as Cafe OnionBean Brothers and Anthracite Coffee Roasters which kept our fingers on our shutter buttons. What stuck with us long after each visit were the more intimate outfits like Center Coffee and General Post Office x Dukes Coffee. Not only were the coffees exceptional, there was just something more beautifully human about those two.

  • The Filipino coffee community can do wonders.

With our powers combined, we can all achieve to do better. When our national barista champion Silvester 'Sly' Samonte shared his routine, we were all there to cheer him on. As we roamed around the city, we went in packs rather than by ourselves. If we continue to show this level of camaraderie back at home, the local specialty coffee industry will thrive in the years to come.

  • Competition is definitely healthy.

World Barista and AeroPress tournaments aside, the level of competition in Seoul is at its highest. And we are referring to the number of coffee roasters, cafes & retailers trying to get their product out there. The reason why the Cafe Show in Seoul is the benchmark trade event in the world for Specialty Coffee is because of all the innovation and disruption that happens due to everyone's dedication to do their best, in and out of the trade show halls.

  • Coffee connects.

Everyone's usually too busy doing work and we normally just touch base with coffee folks over social media or email. So it was great catching up with the humble gentlemen of Rocket Espresso, the passionate personalities behind La Marzocco, and finally meeting the effortlessly cool Jessica Godfrey of ACME & Co after all these years. As we zigzagged across the city, we also managed to form newfound relationships, which in the coffee world is absolutely priceless.

  • The learning never stops.

We were fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to attend the World Coffee Leaders Forum which addressed the future of Specialty Coffee a.k.a. "INDUSTRY 4.0" through various speakers such as Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of Colonna Coffee and the dialogue between Blue Bottle Coffee C.E.O. Bryan Meehan and Director of Training Michael Philips. Their insights into the future of our industry are definitely worth paying close attention to.

Here's a quick recap video of our trip:

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