Over the past few weeks, Caffé Bene has kept popping up in my fb timeline and RSS reader, so I finally put am end to my ignorance and investigated to understand the fuss around it.
As it turns out, Caffé Bene is a hip and popular coffee shop brand hailing from Korea, already present in many foreign countries and also playing on Starbucks’ American turf. It was featured in a Korean drama, which help explains people’s excitement for it.
Interestingly so, in the case of Taiwan, Caffé Bene inaugurated its first outpost in Kaohsiung and not Taipei. Is that a sign that the Taiwanese capital feels a bit saturated with coffee shops? In any case, I am not complaining and can only welcome a place which opens in the early morning, at 8am, hallelujah!
Caffé Bene is located in the Zuoying district, near Kaohsiung Arena. It has a spacious interior with big tables and wifi which makes it a great place to work or study. Outdoor seating is available, as well as a complementary iMac station. The place has a Korean touch to it with the staff greeting customers in Korean, and a menu written only in Korean at the entrance.
Food wise, they serve what you’d expect from any coffee shops, but also gelato, shaved ice and homemade waffles. The five grains 五榖 Misugaru latte is apparently Caffé Bene’s trademark drink, so I ordered one out of curiosity. Unfortunately, the homemade waffles are not available in the morning, so I fell back on one of their big toast with caramel sauce, and a flaky Danish pastry topped with blueberry sauce.
The hot five grains latte surprised me with a taste reminiscent of the Honey Smacks cereals and not some weird taste as I expected. I mean, can you imagine what a mix of black sesame seeds, black bean, black and brown rice and barley would taste like? As for the big toast drizzled with caramel, I found it so-so and personally would have preferred less cinnamon powder sprinkled on it, but even with that, I don’t think it would have salvaged my disappointment. I was excited about the flaky pastry with blueberries and whipped cream, but dismay dawned on the horizon as well. The blueberry topping tasted a bit too artificial, and the whipped cream was let’s just say, not too my liking. By the time I went back to my five grains latte, my taste buds were overloaded with sugar which made it challenging to finish off the drink. I also had sip of the matcha latte which tasted like it’s suppose to taste, after all, I’ve yet to have a matcha latte that will blow me off my socks.
Overall, this first visit at Caffé Bene turned out somewhat underwhelming when it came to the food, but the environment was rather pleasant, well, except the mosquito that kept wanting a piece of my breakfast and my own flesh. With that said, I am still game to go back, though not in a hurry, to try their waffle and their big shaved ice, and it’s nice to count an additional early morning coffee hang out in my address book.
Caffé Bene fans will be excited to know that a second branch will open in the southern part of Kaohsiung, in February 2014.
As of the end of February, Kaohsiung now counts two additional stores, one near the Formosa Boulevard MRT station, and the other inside the Sanduo FE’21 mall. I’ve updated my map accordingly below, so don’t get lost and enjoy! Also, it is likely that at the time you read this, more stores have been added, and since I don’t have radar keeping track of Caffé Bene’s next openings, I will kindly redirect you to your favorite search engine to locate them.
Looking at comments online, the local crowd has mixed feelings about this new Korean coffee shop in town. Some complain about the prices, and I’ll agree that it tends on the expensive side, while others carry a personal embargo against anything Korean. I’m surprised by the latter since I was always under the expression that Taiwanese and Korean got along more or less well, I guess not.
All in all, if you like experiencing brands, you’ll likely enjoy Caffé Bene, but if you prefer places with a personality, then I wouldn’t particularly recommend it. Kaohsiung has many small and nice coffee shops, and so I hope to share a few of my favorite ones in the future.
Name: Caffé Bene
Website: Kaohsiung Arena, Formosa Boulevard, Sanduo FE’21 Mall
Additional Reviews+Photos: pixnet/nellydyu, pixnet/marukoharuko, pixnet/ksdelicacy
Address: No. 77, Lìwén Rd, Zuoying District Kaohsiung City (左營區立文路77號）
Menu: Chinese and English
Business hours: check websites for each stores
(last updated: 2014/09/19 五)