Cafe Case Study: April Coffee – South Korea, Seoul

Modbar - 11.20.23

Why did you open a café and how would you describe your brand?  

April is a coffee roastery from Copenhagen, Denmark founded by Patrik Rolf. It is a production space for coffee in Copenhagen routed in seasonality and sustainability, that decided to open up a branch in Seoul, South Korea.
First and foremost, we never looked to make a café in the traditional sense, this is true for Denmark as it is for South Korea, we strive to be more of a showroom to show off our products as a roastery, the goal is a little bit more of a curated experience. 

Tell us a bit about the location/demographics of the area where you opened. Why did you choose this area?

We opened in the Hannam district here in Seoul, which is quite modern and international, demographically it is not a place where a lot of people live, more a place you come out to dine, shop etc. We looked a lot at the other shops in the area, and it seems to be one of the higher concentrations of shops that like us are trying to create more than just a simple purchase experience, it is also home to our (Pond) bakeries which allow us to have a stronger presence in one neighbourhood. 
One thing that I believe is important to know about Seoul is that the city is very large and every neighbourhood at times feels like separate cities entirely. 

What’s on the menu?  

Just coffee. We receive one sweets menu at a time from Pond (Which is run by the same group), we then also carry our full coffee, equipment, and utility clothing program as retail items. For coffee we switch seasonally, every week, but we choose the coffees that go into every separate beverage, so there are not a lot of choices in that sense. 

  1. Espresso
  2. Milk Espresso (Cap, Oat, Organic, Lacto Free)
  3. Ice Coffee (a spin on the Filter Shot made through the ModBar)
  4. Hot Filter Coffee
  5. Limited Coffee (More exclusive menu, most of the time Filter)

What equipment do you use to make coffee and why did you choose this equipment?

For filter coffee we make everything ourselves. This is quite simply to optimize how good it is for extracting our own coffees. We use April Brewers, April Paper Filters, Kettles, and scales.
For espresso we currently use the ModBar AV, and the Modbar Steam for steaming milk. We use the Weber Unibasket (20g) and a tamper station made by AkikoKen in Denmark as well as use the paper filters during extraction of espresso.

Describe your bar or customer flow. How did the equipment influence the flow or vice versa?

While we are certainly not a quiet kind of café, especially not on weekends, the area is generally not overly crowded, and as such we generally have a pretty gentle flow of customers, with 1-2 smaller rushes around lunch and later afternoon. We pre-grind all of our coffee to keep the atmosphere nice and quiet, which I think alludes to the reasons we have chosen almost all equipment. We like quiet, clean, efficient workflow. Taste is of course king, but presentation and service I believe need just as much attention to detail. As such most equipment is also chosen to involve customers a little in the process so they can see and interact with us while we brew them coffee. That was a very big motivator for going with the ModBar, we essentially did not consider much else as it is relatively quiet, very consistent, has a beautiful and low counter profile allowing us to converse even when brewing coffee, now we just need a silent steam arm.

What’s one thing that makes your café special?

One thing that makes our café special is the fact that we are a coffee showroom, and put so much energy into the experience and taste of the beverages. We are by traditional cafe standards not a very efficient cafe, we are not volume focused in fact, but the customers who do sit in with us I believe have varied experiences across cafes.
While everyone is very welcome to come by for a quick takeaway, and many do, we do agree perhaps that we are more of a sit in and chat kind of cup of coffee.