Cafe Hunter: Eert Cafe

Where Quiet is a Friendly Companion

Eert Cafe brings the luxury of solitude

Story & Photos by: Becky White

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In 1959, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote in his essay on creativity, “My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required.” 

His belief has not yet been proven false, and there are endless cases of how thinkers have been struck by an idea while meandering alone in nature or spending time gazing out a window. In moments of daydreaming and quiet speculation with no distractions, the musings of the mind become less illusory and more real. It takes solitude to make great ideas and it has been shown over and over again through history; Albert Einstein working alone to piece together the theory of relativity, artist Louise Bourgeois living by her statement ”After the tremendous effort you put in here, solitude, even prolonged solitude, can only be of very great benefit,” or the apocryphal story of Newton idling beneath a tree before the apple fell onto his head, knocking the concept of gravity into it. 

In Seoul, the luxury of solitude can be hard to find. Every public space offers time to socialize and interact. However, given the right atmosphere, even a public place can provide the right amount of tranquility for the mind to accidentally wander into a good idea. Eert Coffee turns a cafe into a safe place to think alone. 

Eert Coffee stands out from other cafes in Seoul with little effort. It’s an interior designer’s dream; all wood and lattice panels, slim bamboo trees by the window, sunlight filtering through the willowy leaves, casting shadows on the table. Delicate tea cups made of porcelain and glass sit on the counter, and the atmosphere is tranquil.

There is a Zen garden off to the side, symmetrical circles and swirls carefully drawn through the sand and small pebbles. It’s soothing and oddly mesmerizing. It’s curiously soothing to trace the lines with your eyes, following where they end and where they begin, sometimes tapering off until they vanish into the sand again. Serene days like these feel rare in the modern pace of Seoul life; how different the city would be if its residents were occasionally perfectly satisfied with going nowhere.

 Eert Coffee’s  uniqueness starts with its name. “Eert” is “tree” in reverse, emphasizing the owner’s choice to predominately use wood for the interior. There is a long, smooth wooden table at the center of the room where a group can easily sit together, as well as lower, traditionally Korean-style tables where guests sit without their shoes. It feels homey and comfortable. Each part of the cafe is distinct, yet blends together seamlessly into a singular, quiet space. 

From outside, Eert Coffee is not very visible; it is located in a side alley off a backstreet where a few other cafes and restaurants are. The whole street is secluded and quiet in the afternoons. 

Eert Coffee is just right for making that place where solitude feels like a friendly companion, where perhaps just the right idea that has been waiting to be discovered can be found. 

Hours: M-Sun 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Location: 19-17 Seoulsup 2(i)-gil

Plastic Free: Beautifully so. The cafe is predominately made of wood, porcelain, and glass. 

Sean Choi