“Oh~ That’s interesting..” (Luhan)
“You can’t stop pouring and disconnect the water.” (Xiumin)
“Oh~ Oh~” (Luhan)
EXO’s Xiumin (25) easily demonstrates hand-dripping coffee, to which member Luhan’s (25) eyes widen. But while holding the kettle, Xiumin laughed awkwardly and said, “Something doesn’t feel quite right.”
The team’s oldest members Xiumin and Luhan have often shown a particular affection for coffee and are known as ‘coffee manias’ among fans. After meals is a must, but they also look for coffee at the start and end of work, as well and before and after they’re onstage. They say it feels as if there are thorns in their mouths if they don’t drink coffee for even a day.
What about coffee could Xiumin and Luhan have fallen for? Following the special album ‘Miracles in December’, in the midst of their busy daily lives, we decided to meet up with these two at a Korean barista academy at Seoul Hannamdong.
Upon opening the door and entering, we could smell the alluring scent of coffee. Laid on the table, which Xiumin has actually had barista lessons on, were a variety of beans, coffee extracting appliances, and an espresso machine among other things.
Before the interview we asked, “Show us your skills,” and Xiumin swiftly extracted espresso by filling finely ground coffee beans over a filter. Luhan was a bit of a mess at first because it was his first time making coffee, but he soon caught up and followed well. Afterwards, using milk foam and espresso, they carefully succeeded latte art and the pair’s began to shine.
When we asked how they felt about their attempt at making coffee, Xiumin answered, “Each time I visit every few months, it’s always the same. I know how to do it, but my body won’t follow my knowledge. I want to properly learn one day,” and laughed brightly. Luhan also said, “It’s difficult, but fun.”
Xiumin and Luhan enjoy drinking coffee. The moment they open their eyes in the morning, they think of having a fragrant cup of coffee and have always found time to look for coffee even after debuting. As if sharing a secret, the pair alone spends time together in quiet areas.
“I wondered why you would want to drink something so bitter when I first drank coffee. But I ended up repeatedly searching for it. You could say it’s bitter, but clean.” (Luhan)
“My face is swollen in the morning. But when I drink cool iced coffee, it feels like the swollenness starts to fade. Bitter coffee fits my taste.” (Luhan)
To these hallyu stars, coffee is like a friend that can’t be taken away from them no matter what. In accommodation to their packed schedules, they have to work with less sleep and in times like these, coffee brings back their energy. When they’re physically exhausted, they renew energy and vigilance with coffee in order to perform ‘Growl’ onstage to the fullest.
Xiumin said, “Drinking coffee when I’m tired is as strengthening as ginseng extract” and “I feel very alert.”
Xiumin and Luhan usually like bitter coffee. They said espresso is bitter, but has an addictive factor that causes them to crave it. It’s been a while since they put in syrup. They shared their thoughts of how they live with bitter coffee stuck to their mouths, and therefore have reached the age at which they taste life’s bitterness.
Xiumin explained, “My coffee preference changes according to the state of my mind and mood.” When it rains or snows he has a smooth cappuccino, and when he’s exhausted or weary and sensitive he drinks a cup of rich espresso.
“When I see snow, I imagine the white foam on top of a cappuccino. I feel very energized when I’m tired and drink a shot of espresso, as if I consumed ginseng.” (Xiumin)
Luhan said, “I like drinking coffee because it make me feel relaxed.” He said the coffee he manages to drink in between busy schedules feels more important. Whenever Luhan has no schedules, he finds a nearby cafe with his ‘coffee friend’ Xiumin.
Like any other average 20-year-old males, they order two cups of coffee in a place with good music and talk about cars, soccer, games, as well events from their daily lives to renew their strength.
Because Xiumin likes coffee and wanted to experience being a barista, he visited a Korean barista academy last year. Every little chance he got in between preparing for their comeback, he’d go and learn how to make coffee. Xiumin’s passion led to his professional barista mentor gifting him a hand drip machine and three different coffee beans before he finished his lessons.
Xiumin particularly liked the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe out of the three bean packages. He said, “The differing start and finish tastes are enticing.”
Xiumin has fallen in love with the taste of coffee, while Luhan is attracted to coffee in the general and the mood felt in coffee shops. Occasionally they’d go into a cafe and drink coffee amidst the surrounding attention they receive. They explained, “We ask our manager when we really lack opportunities to roam freely, but it’s better if we drink coffee directly in a cafe.”
“There’s a certain atmosphere only felt in coffee shops according to interior design or the music that is played. Occasionally I’d relax inside a cafe and feel very good when I drink coffee.” (Luhan)
Xiumin said he wants to collect various coffee beans from different countries and properly learn how to be a barista. When he has the chance, he even wants to establish his own coffee shop. Upon being asked, “When do you think that will happen,” he replied, “I want to try it for sure, but it’s still talk of the future.”
Towards the end of the interview, we grew curious of Xiumin’s future business plans, but decided to push it to another time. For now, he’s a star with an image to maintain. Later, when we can openly talk, hopefully we can taste coffee that Xiumin personally makes for us. Of course even then he’ll probably be with his ‘coffee partner’ Luhan.