Coffee Shop Talk – St. 453 in Busan

I was living in Busan for almost two months before one of my coworkers tipped me off to a café street lined with potential go-to coffee places. Not only does it run along the bank of the pleasant Oncheoncheon River, it also happens to be in my neighborhood.

Although I’ve only gotten the chance to visit a couple of places since discovering the street, so far St. 453 has stood out to me. For one, the building itself is like a stacked set of white and clear, glass legos, allowing beams of natural light to stream straight into the space. Two, even when it’s a bit crowded, it stills feels intimate. There’s enough space in between tables to allow for those wistful, afternoon moments lingering in the sunlight shooting through the window. And three… where there is a booth, there is almost always an outlet. In my world, that alone is worth the price of an americano.

There are two floors to choose from at St. 453. The first is quite cozy, with a tucked-away room for a few small groups to gather and flip through copies of Kinfolk that sit patiently on one of the bookshelves. The second is sunnier and more open, with two additional private-ish rooms, one of which can be reserved.

I’m not sure why, but whenever I know there’s a second floor to a coffee shop, I can never settle for the first floor. At this place, however, I know exactly why:

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At the top of the stairs, 1/2
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At the top of the stairs, 2/2
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Each table in its own little world. As you can see, the private room towards the back appears to be on its own country.
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Booth! (Also, note the outlet beside aforementioned booth.)
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An al fresco option for the warmer months.

I will recommend, however, that one uses the facilities on the second floor for gastrointestinal relief. It’s a normal, private bathroom, and is also unisex in case that is good-to-know knowledge. The first floor bathroom, on the other hand, gives off more of a “hole carved out of the ground vibe” and is home to one gnarly-looking spider. In fact, I think he carved out and furnished the place him/herself. I would have taken a photo, (it was that “nope”-worthy,) but I did not bring my phone into the toilet with me. I also get the feeling that I wouldn’t have gotten out of there alive – or or at least not cursed.

So how many americanos do I give this place?

Version 2

Version 2
Did I crop this picture to focus on the americano and fresh, pink carnations? Yes, I did.

2 AMERICANOS!

I didn’t manage to get both of the mugs into one photo, but you get the idea from my cropping.

While the ample sunlight, outlets, and space make it a great place to get some work done or have a long, important conversation with a friend, it just didn’t seem to live up to the secluded coziness I’ve experienced at Momo’s or Big Apple. Perhaps because its location and windows are what keep customers aware of the outside world, thus acting as a constant reminder that you’ve got things to do, places to go, people to see, etc.

But would I go back? Of course! I can already see myself writing and/or dragging a friend there for a quick Sunday afternoon coffee.

Directions: From Nakmin station (Line 4/Blue Line,) take exit 2. Walk straight until you reach a bus stop. Take bus 210 going towards National Archives of Korea History Archives. (They’re the ones being redundant, not me.) Ride the bus for 4 stops until you reach Riverside Tranchae Apartments (강변뜨란채아파트). Turn left when you exit the bus and walk until you reach Oncheoncheon-ro 437 beon-gil (온천천로437번길). Turn right and walk until the road ends at the river. Turn left and you will soon reach the white, boxy building.

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