|▲ Sohn Coffee / CEO Seungho Kim|
What makes Sohn Coffee in Uiwang City unique is that it runs a regular gathering for demented elderly and residents around to share stories over a cup of coffee. It is interesting that on the gathering day demented elderly make coffee and serve people. Encouraged by support from the mayor of the city and a number of local organizations, CEO Seungho Kim recently spread another branch last September. It was 5 years after opening his coffee shop in 2014 and the number in total now reached to 7.
“I wanted to run a coffee shop in which I could do something meaningful apart from serving coffee and snacks. I wasn’t that serious at first but more like a curiosity. But as words spread from mouth to mouth, I took it seriously and made improvement for better and opener.”
A dementia café might sound new for many Koreans but it is widely known in our neighboring country Japan. You might wonder how a dementia café can help them. Many elderly diagnosed with dementia tend to hide it from their families and people around them because they are embarrassed. Dementia is a disease and there is nothing to hide or to be ashamed of. So they gather at a place like Sohn Coffee to share their story with each other.
“I feel really rewarded when I see them smile and happy during the gathering. Thought it is just a café, it makes me feel good that I’m doing something meaningful and I think I’m happier than them. Taking the momentum, I’m determined to openly spread this socially beneficial gathering.”
Kim always wanted to run his own coffee shop one day and he gathered his courage and went to Japan to learn its unique coffee culture in 2006. Back in Korea in 2014, he opened a coffee shop with the name ‘Hakobune’ by remodeling a garage in Uiwang City. He differentiated his coffee with Japanese homemade style where people extract coffee with their own hands. The idea of ‘Sohn’ came from this: ‘sohn’ in Korean sound ‘hand’.
“All 7 Sohn Coffee shops have each different concept of interior and ambience but the spirit is the same. I’m planning to bring a system soon that can enable us to give all-in-one management from location, interior and accounting to development of menu, events and training.”
Kim gives a hint of his idea that he is really into ‘customer self-designed coffee’ which will be another uniqueness of Sohn Coffee alongside dementia café concept.
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