Pyongyang may be one of the few major cities left on Earth where you can’t find a Starbucks. But it’s brimming with coffee shops.
The small, dimly lit cafes have been around in the North Korean capital for years, but the drink’s popularity has surged in Pyongyang recently — enough so, in fact, that it’s sparking a competition among shop owners to provide more of an upscale ambience and a variety of coffees that would almost put the ubiquitous American chain to shame. “Over the past couple of years the number of people who really know good coffee has grown a lot, and they look around the city to find the best places,” said Ri Hyon A, a barista at a popular cafe who underwent training in China to learn the craft.
“We have a lot of regulars.” Though Pyongyang is far more affluent and well-supplied than the rest of the country, the growth of coffee shops and the openly competitive effort to lure customers and turn a profit reflects a larger transformation that has long been underway in North Korea. Read More