Lee Kang Bin isn’t your average barista. He owns the trendy C. Through Cafe in Seoul’s Yongsan-gu district and happens to look like a K-Pop star. He’s also the man behind the popular coffee-centric Instagram account, @leekangbin91 and thinks that coffee is the perfect art canvas.
Lee is a self-taught painter who thinks there is no better surface for a good painting than a cup of creamy coffee. Using food dyes, Lee hand paints cute characters, pop culture figures and near-perfect tributes to old world art onto the ephemeral surface of a coffee. And, painting these details over a frothy cup of Joe has brought global fame to this young coffee artist.
Lee has been spotlighted by top media outlets worldwide for his work but before you book a flight to Seoul for a sip of the handsome barista’s artful coffees, there’s a catch.
Each cup of what Lee calls Creamart is only painted by the barista himself – and in extremely short supply.
Lee’s coffee art is so limited that at peak, he only fetes a maximum of three customers a day for a cup of his elusive Creamart. You’ll need to book a date for Lee’s designer cup but bookings are rarely available and difficult to secure. Even if you live in Seoul, it’s near impossible as reservations are presently closed until further notice due to the artist’s busy schedule.
Don’t despair though, Lee’s designs are regularly uploaded to his Instagram feed. His page is a bank of the artist’s best work so that anyone can enjoy a virtual cup of Lee’s famous Creamart coffee from anywhere in the world.
Lee currently has an enviable fan base of 186, 000 followers on Instagram loving his coffee art and we’re not surprised.
The self-taught coffee artist also doesn’t make latte art per se. Every cup of Creamart is served cold – created over a cup of Dutch Coffee; a sophisticated form of cold-brewed coffee that gives Lee plenty of time to create his painstaking art without compromising the drinking quality of the beverage at all.
Coffee art aside, if you happen to be in Seoul, Lee’s cafe is a classy, modern space to experience the city’s burgeoning coffee scene.
The C. Through cafe’s interior is industrially-chic with a barista area that resembles a cool, state-of-the-art laboratory. Judging by the cafe’s dedicated coffee paraphernalia, it seems that Lee and his team are serious about their brew.
Another popular coffee at C. Through is the Scotchino and the cafe describes this drink on its Instagram page as, “scotch candy-flavored coffee that is full of emotion”.
The Scotchino is an overflowing, messy-looking beverage that contrasts with the neat, utilitarian interior of the C. Through cafe but the contrast works, and the result is a drink that looks decadent and fun.
The C.Through cafe and its Scotchino have appeared on the popular Korean variety program, My Little Television, and won the young barista even more attention.
Thankfully, this is one menu item that customers can get their hands on more easily than the cafe’s very limited Creamart.
C. Through Cafe
37, Noksapyeong-daero 40na-gil
Seoul (Near Seonsu Station)
Facebook: C. Through Cafe