The coffee beans are delivered green and roasted on the premises. The red and chrome roaster churns all afternoon. A single cup is a bit pricey at 5,000 won. However, if you stay for a while, they will refill it about once an hour with whatever happens to have just been brewed.
The bacon and chicken sandwiches include savory grilled onions and peppers, fresh tomatoes, pickles, and a tangy sauce (making the napkin mandatory). Be sure to order the bacon crispy (basakbasakhan 바삭바삭한), or else it will come out half-done in the Korean style.
The New York Cheesecake is thick and creamy. The Big Brulee Cheese Bar, with chocolate chips sunk into the crust, has just the right combo of tangy and sweet to match a steaming cup of black coffee.
Perhaps the best part of Coffee Tree on a Hill, though, is the hill itself. Taejo mountain is within sight and walking distance. The large bronze Buddha, one of Cheonan’s minor claims to fame, is a peaceful 20 minute walk up the street. From within the temple complex, one can enter the trail head that runs along the Taejo Mountain ridge. A morning walk on the mountain is a beautiful set up for a peaceful afternoon with a good book and freshly roasted coffee.
A few warnings. Coffee Tree is open late, but its doors are shut until 11:30am. Conversely, the temple complex is open early but closes at sundown. I’ve been on the wrong side of these time limitations more than once.
To get here, take the #24 bus from the Cheonan Bus Terminal (on the Dunkin Donuts side of the street). Wait until the very last stop (about 20 minutes). The bus will probably pull into a parking lot. Walk down the hill to the first gravel driveway and turn right. Coffee Tree on a Hill is on the second floor of the orange brick building, with a nice walk out patio. The only English on the building is a pink sign for the “Face to Face” skin clinic.
(This review will be published in Korea's 10 MAGAZINE, February 2011.)