Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cafe Crawl: Flower Cafe Floresta

There is a common cafe recipe in Korea. The ingredients include exposed ceilings, rafters and pipes; bare or brightly painted plaster or concrete; tile or concrete floors; pop, ballad or lounge music; full bookshelves; and patio furniture  or furniture that is recycled, eclectic, and of antique Western styles. Mix these things together and add a dash of espresso based drinks plus a smattering of your basic black and green teas, fruit juices, smoothies and baked goods. Finally, sprinkle liberally with kitsch, and a modern, Korean, indie cafe is born. 

As it is a wildly successful recipe, it has become ubiquitous in Korea. From the mix of stereotypically avant-garde cafes, however, Flower Cafe Floresta, located in Pyeongtaek next to the main street entrance to Lotte Super on the main bus line between AK Plaza and New Core, offers a breath of fresh air — literally. 

It is a florist shop as well as a cafe. 

In addition to the usual mix of espresso drinks, fruit juices and tea, Cafe Floresta sells a variety of house plants and floral arrangements. They not only provide a lovely garden setting, they give the air the earthy vibrance of fresh cut flowers and potting soil.

Inhabited by potted trees, spider and jade plants, schefflera, peace lilies, dracaena, rainbow colored roses, little decorative cacti and flooded with natural light, Cafe Floresta is the perfect place for people who are revitalized by nature to study or unwind.

The drinks are good and fairly priced. The iced Earl Grey, for instance, was refreshing and not bitter, but because of the quantity, was well worth the price of 5,500 won. Large and priced at around 4,000 won a cup, the espresso drinks are also a bargain. The iced cappuccino, for example, was as tall as an average man's hand from fingertip to wrist. It had no ice to dilute it, yet it was still cold.

If 4,000 to 5,000 won for a drink is too expensive, the service more than makes up for it. The barista was out of the cafe when we arrived, but was very apologetic, friendly and attentive when he returned. He even provided free waffles drizzled with maple syrup and topped with almond slices and whipped cream in apology. 

The cafe is as spotlessly clean as the air is fresh, and free wifi is available. However, you will need a password. It is written on a sign posted to the door behind the counter.

On the negative side, the bathroom — more aptly described as a "water closet," but a clean one — is located next door in the entrance to Lotte Super, a local supermarket. Moreover, Cafe Floresta can present a challenge to foreigners unfamiliar with the Korean language. Only the menu headings are written in English and the barista was more comfortable speaking in Korean. For those who can't read Korean, it is suggested that you know what you want before you see the menu, as most cafe drinks have the same name in Korean as they do in English, and the menu is typical of most cafe menus. 

Overall, however, Flower Cafe Floresta is a relaxing cafe that provides refreshment not just for the palate and the mind but the eyes and the lungs as well.

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