Remember when lofts were a thing? I know they still are a thing and you can show off how good your salary is by buying one, but remember when that was an attainable goal for many people? Just buy a part of a warehouse and turn it into whatever you want? If going to Coffee Libre is like going to your friend’s old brownstone apartment with tin roofs, Anthracite is your friend who got a loft and is going to make the most out of it. Despite being similarly huge companies, and often experimenting, Anthracite gives a good foil to Coffee Libre. The place it reminds me the most of in the US is Panther Coffee in Miami.
Anthracite is open late, and despite being a bit outside of the usual area to hang out in Hongdae is quite lively, especially as the night progresses. Taxi drivers don’t know where it is, or how to even drive down the street to get to it and it’s next to a bunch of apartment buildings, but that doesn’t stop anyone. They seem to host a good number of events, like cuppings, have a good variety of desserts, and have a good amount of other drinks fro your non-coffee geek friends. Most importantly, they have three different types of espresso.
The first espresso I went to try was the Air and Dream blend, as far as I can tell this is their version of an east coast style espresso (something Panther coffee also does, just saying). It has a light-mid body, is a bit tart and very juicy. I’d put the fruity flavor at a kind of lime flavor note.
The other espresso blend is called the Butter Fat Trio, and from the name one could easily gather it’s a third wave re-imagining of the typical Italian espresso. Which I dig. So you get a bit of a strong roast flavor, but not strong enough to make you feel like it’s overcompensating, and a flavor that may or may not be from a small amount of robusta. It has chocolatey flavor notes and a medium body but digging a bit deeper I found a hint of peach (at least Japanese peach) that was incredibly satisfying.
Lastly, there is Single Origin Espresso which changes often, and which I’m always a huge supporter of. The beans at the time were Ethiopia Banko Goti which as most Ethiopias go was fruity with an -ay. The shot starts off with a burst of juicy fruitiness, shifts to more herbal and earthy, and finishes off like cream. There are flavor notes of dried cherries, and cacao.
Anthracite is another big fish in the Seoul third wave coffee scene, not spread like Coffee Libre, but buckling down in its huge location to churn out more and more coffee. I guess I didn’t make the Panther Coffee reference that lightly. So it’s worth checking out to see what the buzz is, and of course for the chance to try a great deal of different types of coffee (they also apparently have others that were not on the menu when I went this time).
Note: There is also an Anthracite location on Jeju Island, if you were planning to go, I’d fully recommend finding their Jeju location even though I myself was unable to check that one out.