The other day on the phone a client of our consultancy service said to us, “The problem Starbucks created was that for every store they put up, they inspired something like 16 others to be created.” We’re not too sure about the numbers but I’m sure that if you’ve walked through your caffeine drenched neighborhood recently you get the point.

A walk through the Samcheong-dong and Hongdae districts of Seoul last weekend reminded us of this comment. Alongside the bright green-lettered Starbucks are dozens and dozens of other coffee shops: some Western brands, some European-sounding brands and a growing number of individual boutiques with a Bay-Area style fanaticism about how they store, roast and prepare you coffee. At some points of our walk there seemed to be more coffee shops than clothing stores – all designed to give Seoul’s middle-classes something to do while they pine to get back to work on Monday to see their buddies.

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