Students have yet another coffee shop to check out this finals season.
Caffé Bene, a South Korean chain, recently opened a location near Penn’s campus on 38th and Chestnut streets. The cafe features a calming and well-lit study atmosphere with a unique, Korean-inspired aesthetic. Hanging lights, bookshelves and light wood paneling give the shop a contemporary and trendy feel.
Though the cafe is best known for its drinks — including coffee, tea, lattes and smoothies — don’t forget to try the food menu as well. On the savory side, check out grilled cheese sandwiches made on thin waffles for under five dollars. Sweet items include ice cream, honeybread — a dessert made with sweet bread and honey — and waffles topped with a variety of sweets such as strawberries, bananas, gelato, yogurt and cream cheese.
“Caffé Bene is different from other cafes in that we offer honey bread, ice parfaits, waffles, gelato and mojitos. Going forward, we’re planning on selling more breakfast foods,” owner Jerry Gao said. So far there are over 1,600 stores around the world and it is one of the leading cafes in South Korea, Gao said.
Gao emphasized the calming environment of the spacious and well-lit cafe, noting that many students go to Caffé Bene to study.
“It’s quiet and comfortable. A lot of student[s] sit here and do homework,” Gao said.
“Years ago, it was the fastest growing cafe franchise in Korea. I read a book written by the owner of this company, and one of his strategies was to open franchises in popular locations and big places,” said Drexel PhD Yongtaek Oh, a frequent customer at the cafe.
College junior Seyoon Lee, also at the cafe, mentioned the similarities in decor and foods between the Caffé Bene in South Korea and the one in University City.
Lee visited Caffé Bene after seeing that it had recently opened.
“I was waiting for this place to open. It’s quite interesting: in Korea, it was booming for a few years. It’s been slowing down lately. There was recently an opening in New York,” Lee said, noting the Korean-inspired decor and menu.
Wary of cold weather deterring students from going to Caffé Bene, Gao noted that he is looking to partner with Uber Eats, which offers food delivery.
“The main challenge is the weather. Sometimes it’s just too cold, and students don’t want to walk far. We’re trying to incorporate Uber Eats, so students can get their food delivered,” Gao said.
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