Updated: Feb 25
The 2021 KakaoTV slice-of-life web series Would You Like a Cup of Coffee? addresses in 12 episodes the uncomfortable feelings about uncertainty and change in life, love, and even the pandemic. It stars Oh Seung-woo, playing a rookie barista, and Park Ho-san, portraying the owner of Café 2Dae (2nd Generation).
Would You Like a Cup of Coffee? was written and directed by No Jung-wook and based on the manhwa (Korean comic) of the same name written by Huh Young Man and Lee Ho Joon. The manhwa was illustrated by Huh Young Man.
Set in the quaint but beloved neighborhood coffee shop Café 2Dae (2nd Generation), the passionate apprentice Kang Go-bi (Oh Seung-woo) learns about coffee—and life—from his wise teacher, cafe owner Park Se-ok (Park Ho-san). Over the episodes, we see how the community helps him heal from his failed exam and work towards his new dream of becoming a barista.
With the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague) seemingly upon us, Would You Like a Cup of Coffee? provides solace in such a world without ignoring the cause of our worries. To call the drama “healing” is an understatement. What does one do in the face of what seems like a life-changing defeat—wallow in sadness, try again, or rage-quit and find another dream to pursue? These Go-bi did all in one day—or in the case of our web series, within an episode—spurred by Se-ok's “god shot,” that one cup of coffee so perfect that it can be life-changing.
Each episode is only 30 minutes long, and in each episode, a theme is explored and generally resolved. Along the way, we are given a glimpse of how Go-bi slowly builds his career as a barista. Every customer whether regular or fleeting becomes a part of his learning experience. The many kinds of customers of the café represent a sampling of people that we meet in daily life. Sometimes there are potentially abusive customers, other business owners, a critic, a strict new landlord, a new boss, and many others.
Se-ok may have given in into Go-bi's relentless request to be an apprentice, but he certainly does not tolerate mediocre coffee. It is impressive how the perfectionist and generous mentor lets his newbie use his precious beans in numerous trials for the sake of learning (while some big corporations don’t even let their employees conduct a proper design of experiments!). Yet, beyond learning the technicalities of making coffee, Se-ok the wise teacher instills in his student the need for kindness towards all people, customer or not.
If the themes aren’t enough to pique your interest, the warm tones of the cinematography further enrich the atmosphere of camaraderie and empathy in the coffee shop. There are hints of the somber and the nostalgic, but it is ultimately uplifting.
Inasmuch as COVID-19 has forced us to isolate ourselves, the series reminds us that the perfect remedy for our anxiety and loneliness is a community. We don't necessarily need to be with strangers in a café, but we can find new ways to connect with people and allow ourselves to heal.
While short, an episode can pack life lessons quite a punch, so the slice-of-life drama is best relished one episode at a time. Indeed, watching it is as comforting as a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee on a cold and rainy day.
Stream if: You badly need respite from what’s happening in the world or in your life (pretty much every one of us, to be honest). Available on WeTV, Viki or KakaoTV
Skip if: You are not into slow-paced or slice-of-life TV shows. You do not want any reminder of COVID-19 (the last episode mentions it).