Stumptown coffee and pancakes in Seoul

The Pancake Epidemic, a creative agency in California, launched its first South Korean flagship cafe near Seoul's Apgujeong-dong on Sept 19.

A division of the Los Angeles-based marketing agency StreetVirus, The Pancake Epidemic started out as an invitation-only gathering spot.

"Private brunches were held every Friday," said The Pancake Epidemic Seoul general manager Tony Lee, explaining that the original folks in California kept their caffeinated get-togethers exclusive.

Now, the creative agency is thinking big, joining hands with South Korean street culture and fashion sales group Kasina to open a flagship cafe above the clothing brand Stussy's Seoul Chapter and two outlets at Hyundai Department Store's Apgujeong and Coex locations.

"We are going to open a store in Garosugil, maybe the end of this year or next year," Lee, 39, said, adding that the agency's plans were to open 10 outlets in Korea.

The Pancake Epidemic Seoul head barista John Kim, 28, confirmed that all of its outlets, including the department store locations, would be pouring brews crafted from famed US artisanal roaster Stumptown Coffee's beans.

Espresso-based drinks and cold-brewed coffee are being made with Stumptown's well-known Hair Bender blend while Stumptown's single-origin coffee is being prepared with a Chemex Coffeemaker.

Lee said the single-origin beans are going to keep changing.

For the moment, according to another head barista Im Zee-ae, 32, the most popular single-origin beans are the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelbessa and the Honduras Finca El Puente.

It is not hard to see why the Chelbessa, with its sweet notes of raspberry, is popular, nor does it require any stretch of imagination to understand why Stumptown's Hair Bender blend is so famous.

As cold-brewed coffee, the blend is pleasantly chocolatey. As the espresso base for a cappuccino, it delivers a well-rounded flavor tinged with notes of butterscotch.

According to Im, a rich organic milk is used to craft the "velvety and thin layer of foam" that is added to two shots of the Hair Bender blend espresso for a creamy flat white-like cappuccino that still packs a punch.

After picking up one's brew, folks can drape themselves over the high stools by the bar or stroll downstairs to the patio for a relaxed coffee break.

While coffee is clearly the main attraction, it is not the only item on the menu.

"Our name is Pancake Epidemic," Lee said. "We are going to add pancakes."

Hungry patrons can look forward to "little pancakes with butter and syrup" in two flavors ― original and cinnamon ― "hopefully next month," Lee revealed.

The Pancake Epidemic Seoul

2F, 645-24 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

(02) 3445-4525

Open 10 am to 11 pm daily

Coffee and espresso-based drinks cost 4,500 won (S$5.30) to 9,000 won, beans cost 30,000 won to 52,000 won