NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On Manhattan’s Lower East Side is Round K, an Asian-inspired coffee shop defined by eclectic décor and a one-of-a-kind philosophy.
“I didn’t make a Korean coffee shop,” founder OckHyeon Byeon said. “I made an American coffee shop themed [for] Korea . . . . It’s a little bit rough, with a mixed culture, and it makes people confused. Through their confusion, they start an analysis: ‘Why is that? How can I enjoy it?'”
The menu is as idiosyncratic as the space. The two top sellers are the egg coffee — made with a whole egg yolk cooked slowly in a double-shot of espresso — and a matte black latte, which gets its striking jet-black color from coconut ash and dark cocoa powder.
At Round K, Byeon looks to offer a sense of Korean culture before its modernization in the 1990s.
“In an old-fashioned Korean coffee shop like this, our main actor is the barista, the person who’s standing [behind] the bar, ” Byeon said.
“They’re talking to customers: ‘How are you? How’s your day? What was your stress? What inspired you? Hey, other customer. This person has this kind of story. Are you interested [in] it?’ So we link each other together. It’s pretty much analog-style. Nowadays on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, people are finding each other through digital sites. But I want to create an analog world, an actual world, through people, link by link.”
99 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002