I remember traveling to Canada almost 20 years ago and seeing a Starbucks for the first time in Vancouver. I had never seen one in Korea before, as Ulsan didn’t get a Starbucks until around 2004. Apparently the first Starbucks opened in Korea in 1999, but it was in Seoul and I hadn’t had a chance to visit it.
The first Starbucks in Ulsan was SMALL. It was in a tiny side shop in one of our Hyundai Department Stores. It was also popular. The lines were very long at first, and it seemed like the tables were always full.
Since then, the number of Starbucks in Ulsan has exploded. Taking a quick look at the map, there are at least 17 different Starbucks locations in the city. In our new downtown area, there are six Starbucks Stores in a 1 square kilometer area.
The size of the buildings of the stores have also gotten much bigger. Some of them are their own buildings, and even include a drive-thru option in several locations.
Starbucks Korea is also very innovative with their Seasonal Drinks. It seems like every month there are a number of different drinks to choose from that are not on the regular menu.
During the autumn season here in Korea, they have added four different drinks to the menu according to the website. Yesterday, I went to one of the locations and tried two of the Starbucks autumn menu drinks: the Apple Cookie Latte and the Hazelnut Oat Chocolat.
Going into the store, I had to scan a QR code on my phone and have my temperature checked because of COVID-19. Fortunately, there were no other customers in the store when I went there so I wasn’t too worried about any health problems.
After ordering the two drinks, I looked around at the different things that Starbucks sells. The plethora of items that they have is always amazing to me.
After choosing a table at the highest tier of the Starbucks, I sat down with the drinks and looked around.
The location is quite large, with three different levels. The serving area is on the first level, and the second and third are seating areas. It is also a wide-open room with some interesting pictures on the wall.
I was a little disappointed that when the drinks were prepared, they did not come in the mugs that are pictured on the website and the menu. Those pictures look outstanding but the drinks in the store just come in plain white Starbucks mugs.
I ordered the tall size for each drink and decided to try the Hazelnut Oat Chocolat first. The drink didn’t look too special, although the white foam with the chocolate powder on top was nice.
Taking the first sip, the Starbucks Hazelnut Oat Chocolat was sweet and warm. There was a delicate, light chocolate taste to it, and the flavor of oats was prevalent. Notably, there was no hazelnut flavor at all.
About halfway through the drink, the chocolate flavor became much more pronounced, and there was even a little hint of hazelnut. At this point it reminded me of a biscuit from England, the Hobnob’s Milk Chocolate variety.
By the end of the drink, the chocolate flavor was almost overwhelming, and the drink was very sweet, which I find happens a lot with many hot chocolate drinks.
The next drink was the Apple Cookie Latte. This drink was also very sweet, as I had ordered whipped cream on top.
The drink comes with what looks like an apple syrup on top, some tiny cookie crumbled pieces, and even a few small pieces of dried apple.
The Starbucks Apple Cookie Latte tasted very much like an apple jam cookie. There was a light touch of cinnamon in the mix but the sweet apple flavor was always there. The little cookie pieces and the dried apple added some interesting texture to the drink that helped to break up the sweetness of a little.
Overall, I think the Hazelnut Oat Chocolat was the better drink because I really enjoy the flavor of oats and chocolate together.
As always Starbucks did not set the bar for greatest drinks, but the consistency of the drink quality was there. If you really like sweet treats, and you are interested in dessert in a mug, then either the Starbucks Hazelnut Oat Chocolat or the Apple Cookie Latte would be a great way to end an evening meal.