FOURB runs three locations across South Korea's capital Seoul. And they're looking to expand. The specialty coffee company was started just over four years ago and now has shops across the city in Gwanghwamun, Hpajung, and Hoegi. Seoul in recent years has seen a huge increase of interest in their coffee scene. In 2017, the city hosted the World Barista Championships and attracted over 140,000 people from around the world. The Hpajung flagship store not only serves coffee, but also boasts a coffee roastery, bakery, and flower shop. We interviewed Walter Kim who works as the General Manager of FOURB, who oversees many aspects of the company. Their main role is Quality Control, which includes beverages, the bakery and customer service.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
How did FourB begin?
FOURB started in Gwanghwamun 4 years ago, thinking of its core value "Basic." This city, Seoul, is too speedy to catch up sometimes. It glows too much, hurting our eyes. So when the city is busy variegating itself with million colors, we thought, the background remains unpainted and gets even more defined. That’s the point where we began. Basics, background, and the values that are always there but easy to forget. FOURB promises to keep its eyes on them.
What is your favorite coffee that you have recently served and how was it prepared?
Cappuccino! Well, haha, I’m good at steaming milk, especially for cappuccino. I practiced more than a thousand times to make a decent cup of wet cappuccino when I just started my career as a barista. Here is our recipe!
- Dose 19g of coffee from ‘Smoker’ blend and extract 20g of espresso at 93℃.
- Gently steam milk up to 55℃.
- We don’t put cinnamon or chocolate powder on top. What we need is a perfect heart!
What do you think of the local coffee scene and how it has evolved over the past few years?
I dare say the coffee market in Korea has evolved so fast over the past few years, and the number of local coffee shops has increased dramatically. I think there are three significant changes in the scene.
1. The number of shops using Specialty coffee bean has been increased.
2. Customers’ preference over coffee and café has got very diverse and wide. They not only care for the taste but also location, interior, service, and everything.
3. The expectation of coffee quality from their cup is getting higher.
How do you use Acaia on bar?
We are using two types of Acaia scales. One is ‘Acaia Pearl’ that we use for measuring grounded coffee and the amount of hand-drip coffee, and the other one being ‘Acaia Lunar’. This compact yet smart guy is for measuring the amount of espresso.
6. What is your favorite aspect of FourB and what's coming up next?
I think one of the best parts of working at FOURB is that I can communicate with people from various backgrounds through a cup of coffee. Since our shops are in central commercial districts, many of our main customers are very confident and passionate about their jobs and selves. That inspires us very much every day, and such good and strong energy truly interact among people. It goes back and forth between us and the customers, and that’s why our customers often tell us that they, too, are inspired by us.
We have lots of things to do this year such as opening two more shops, attending HOTELEX Shanghai 2019 with La Marzocco China, collaborate with Japanese brand BEAMS, and so far. We hope all of the people around the world can experience their own wonderful moments through our brand. So we’ll do our best to provide such experiences for our loyal customers and keep our high quality of products.
Our core value is ‘People,’ including our customers, team members, and everyone. It is important to dream a bigger future, but it has no point if not related to building a better community with a warm heart. So everyone, please keep watching our next move. It will be huge fun!
Thanks again for the interview, Walter. We wish FourB the best of luck in the coming year!