Many coffee chains are expanding business hours to 24 hours a day as diversifying lifestyles create more night owls. Convenience stores and restaurants that operate around the clock are already going strong in the streets of Seoul, and now over 100 coffee shops in the city have joined their ranks.
The leader in this niche market is Tom N Toms. Starting with its Apgujeong-dong shop in the affluent Gangnam district in 2005, some 81 out of its 340 outlets nationwide are open 24 hours.
The number of the chain's 24-hour shops increased from one in 2005 to 48 in 2009, and 81 this year. They target places with a large itinerant population such as Hyehwa-dong and Sinchon and university areas.
Caffé Bene started a 24-hour store in Dongdaemun Market in November 2009, targeting vendors and shoppers who are active in early morning. Now 15 out of its 267 outlets in Seoul and 27 out of 817 nationwide are open around the clock.
For Angel-in-us Coffee, the figures are 19 out of over 150 stores in Seoul. The chain websites indicate where the 24-hour outlets are.
Cultural critic Kim Won said, "The opening hours offer a snapshot of modern life, and the number of shops that cater to night owls is only going to grow."