An inter-peninsular bond over specialty coffee has grown stronger with the opening of Korea-inspired Haan Coffee‘s roastery and cafe in Orlando, Florida.
Haan Coffee worked with GDP Design Build to create a space in the city’s Mills 50 district that’s deeply attuned to Korean architectural traditions, with the goal of creating an experience that promotes balance, community and curiosity.
Built-in shelves are spaciously lined with pottery, books and art, while natural materials and harmonious geometry are intended to create a sense of calm.
“Soft wood tones and off-white colors in contrasting textures create an interior that is a dynamic yet neutral backdrop for the space’s many functions,” GDP Design Build Principal Justin Fong told DCN via email. “As you make the winding procession from the entrance of the store, past the galleries and conversational seating to the stone coffee counter, the noise of the outside world diffuses preparing you for that first sip of expertly crafted coffee.”
Coffees roasted in house make their way to numerous brewing devices, including a Ground Control machine.
Meanwhile, the shop’s food and drink menus specifically aim for Korean-inspired items such as the Seoul Iced Coffee, modeled after the sort of coffee served in Korean dabangs, tea and coffee houses that predate modern coffee shop concepts in Korea.
Haan Coffee Co-Founder Hong Shin told Daily Coffee News that at a time in Korea’s past when coffee was generally scarce, dabangs served a drink made with a small amount of dark coffee mixed with sugar and a lot of milk or half and half.
“We wanted to take this historical and beloved style of coffee, modernize and elevate it for everyone else to enjoy,” he said. “In other Korean coffee shops and bakeries in the U.S. they call it ‘Dabang Iced Coffee.'”
Creative approaches to Korean flavors at Haan also include SuJungGwa latte, named and flavored after a traditional Korean dessert tea made with ginger, cinnamon, persimmon and dates.
“We have been heavy in R&D mode to test a long list of hypotheses to infuse Korean ingredients and foods into our menu,” said Hong Shin. “This process had us reflecting on the foods we love, and talking with our parents and elders. We’ve learned more about our Korean heritage as our parents led us through ‘back in Korea’ stories of snacks they ate and drank. There is a warmth from the nostalgia and flavor notes that we are greatly looking forward to sharing with everyone.”
Haan Coffee was launched in 2020 by a team of four first-generation Korean Americans. Suzie Shin is director of design; Kenneth Kuk is the coffee and business operations manager; Hong Shin takes the lead on cafe operations; and Albert Kang leads finances and growth.
Hong Shin said that in 2020, as race-related politics were heavy on the public consciousness, the four friends spent time reflecting upon their own experiences as Korean Americans, appreciating the sacrifices of their parents while acknowledging a sense of displacement caused by feeling drawn between two cultures.
Said Hong, “We channeled this energy into entrepreneurship and our shared love for coffee, using it as a medium to celebrate our heritage and individual identities.”
Hong Shin added that while for many Korean speakers, the term “haan” may reflect grief or resentment, yet for the founders, its meaning is more nuanced.
“It’s a word that captures over a century’s worth of collective experience for the Korean people,” he said. “Korea is a country that suffered terrible atrocities through the Japanese occupation and went through a traumatic civil war, only to pull itself up from poverty into the technological and economic excellence we see today. We believe this spirited resilience, or carrying a proverbial ‘chip on our shoulder’, is something that is uniquely a part of our cultural identity. Rather than run from the reality of our heritage, we decided to pay homage to our roots.”
On a 2.5-kilo Diedrich roaster displayed inside the shop, the Haan Coffee team embraces coffees that reflect recent innovations in post-harvest processing, while also producing profiles that may be more familiar.
“Our north star is to produce an end product that our community and customers are thrilled to drink,” said Hong Shin. “How we get to achieving that is the fun process of figuring out the formula and combinations of sourcing, roasting, and extracting.”
Currently operating on a soft opening schedule, the cafe has scheduled its grand opening for Jan. 2, 2023.