South Korea Runs on Dunkin’

All the Coffee in Korea continues…

Growing up in New Jersey, Dunkin’ Donuts was king. Long before Starbucks and an influx of high quality local roasters, there was Dunkin’. I can remember late nights with high school friends to the DD on Route 35 in Middletown for a Boston Creme and large coffee, light and sweet.

As those aforementioned roasters and Starbucks did enter the picture, however, my tastes changed. Instead of dumping (literally) spoonful after spoonful of sugar and cream, with a splash of coffee, into a cup, I wanted my coffee either straight up (don’t tell me) or with just a little regular milk. In other words, I actually wanted to taste my coffee. This is where the Double D’s sagged under the weight of reality: Dunkin Donuts’ coffee itself is pretty bad.

Not so in South Korea! One of a number of the most American of indulgences to come here, Dunkin’ Donuts has become as ubiquitous as Starbucks and, here, Caffe Bene, Angel-in-us, Ediya, Tom N Toms, etc. etc. ad-overcaffeinated-nauseum.

The other day, I appeased the gods of coffee addiction by getting my Americano (side tangent: I found out the other day the Korean phrase for “What are you talking about?” is “Mora-cano?” which made my Korean co-teachers giggle when I made the comparison) at the DD next to my hagwon in Dadaepo.

“Nicholas” after his fifth espresso. Not a pretty sight.
The familiar storefront, no matter what part of the world you live in.

I upsized (of course), which brought the price from 3,000 won to 3,700. Which is funny because the last time I did this, it was 1,400 more and the size of the cup was as big as my head. Like the mass availability of coffee, large cup sizes for not too much more money is something relatively new to Korea.

I believe what happened was this time they upsized from regular to medium, not regular to absurd.


The verdict? It was fine. Even the weakest cup of South Korean Dunkin’ Donuts Americano is many times better than if you tried a black coffee at a DD in the U.S. I have had several excellent cups from DD’s here. This wasn’t one of them, but it was still pretty good. The gods are pleased for one more day.

And, it also helped me to form my new, ever-growing tower of Korean coffee cups. I dub thee “Java-San.” What do you think?

A work in progress.

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