The iced americano, the favorite drink of Koreans
Few coffee lovers think of South Korea when they think of countries to visit and experience coffee culture. Although coffee isn’t grown in Korea, it’s worth a visit to experience the unique and modern coffee scene.
Coffee is more than just a drink in Korea. It’s a big part of the Korean way of life. For many office workers, a cup of coffee during their lunch break is part of everyday life.
They don’t just go to the café for a drink, they enjoy their free time sitting together with a cup of coffee in hand and chatting.
Coffee culture has even created its own language. Iced Americano is known as “Ah-Ah” and its die-hard drinkers are known as “Eoljuka,” a contraction of a new proverb proclaiming that they would freeze to death for their drink.
The Iced Americano, the flagship drink
When your favorite K-pop idol or k-drama character walks into a coffee shop, what are the chances they’ll walk out with an ah-ah? We say: 100%, or almost.
Yes, the iced Americano is the hottest coffee drink in South Korea. Celebrities really love it. NCT’s Jaemin, for example, is known for his custom order from Starbucks: eight shots of espresso in a Venti cup with ice only, no water.
But even ordinary Koreans seem to be in love with this drink, and they even have a saying that goes: “Even if I freeze to death, an Iced Americano!” », jokingly in the dead of winter it really shows the popularity of the Americano!
For those unfamiliar with the drink, the americano is simply espresso with water. The cold version – also known as Iced Americano – is still South Korea’s unofficial national drink.
That’s huge considering South Korea has the second highest coffee consumption in the world, with a $4.3 billion coffee industry, the highest in Asia, according to BusinessKorea.
Obviously, Korean coffee culture is huge. Which begs the question of why Iced Americano is so rampant in the Korean coffee scene?
- It is practical
The Americano is an easy choice when you just want a boost to stay sharp.
Research from Horang University shows that South Koreans refer to ah-ah as their favorite “work drink” — a quick way to get what they call a “caffeine infusion.”
- It doesn’t leave a hole in your wallet
Specialty coffee can be expensive in Korea, so a trip to Starbucks can cut the paycheck significantly. The Americano is much more affordable and is just espresso and hot water, or with ice if you prefer.
In short, a minimalist drink with no foam, no milk or aroma. It is by far one of the cheapest drinks on the menu of the most popular cafes.
- It’s good for those who don’t like coffee too much
If you don’t particularly like the bitter taste of coffee, this is the drink for you. Sometimes criticized as “weak” coffee, Americano is tastier for people who don’t particularly like coffee but still want to drink it.
- It’s a no-fuss drink
Koreans are traditionally the land of tea, where tea drinking involves many rituals and even elaborate etiquette.
The Americano doesn’t have such a complicated background – it’s just a quick and easy drink. And that makes it fun and attractive to many young South Koreans.
- All the sexy stars drink it!
From BTS to BlackPink, all the hottest K-pop stars have been spotted sipping Americanos. And kdramas haven’t lagged behind either.
From Vincenzo to Start Up, popular kdramas inevitably have a key scene where the characters stop at a coffee shop for an americano — and a meaningful “moment” where the characters flirt, fall in love, or just give us some of that romantic tension that we’re about can’t resist.
And that’s exactly how we want an Americano too! If you come to Korea, don’t hesitate to have a drink!