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Satisfy your cravings for K-Pop and coffee at Calabash Café, the only BTS-themed café in Edmonton

By Shania Fausto on March 26, 2023

James Noh and his wife Catherine have been running Calabash Café since 2019. Their love for the K-pop group “BTS” has sprung a unique one-of-a-kind café attracting much attention from their fans, “ARMY” and K-Pop fans in general.

The couple gives insight into their journey in building a BTS-themed café, the ups and downs and the lessons they have learned as business owners and devoted fans of BTS.

Q: Why did you decide to run a BTS-themed café?
A: “BTS is like an energy source for me. Despite being at the top, seeing them work hard gives me the energy to challenge myself and do something new. I also find meeting ARMYs, who share the same feelings, enjoyable.”

Q: Why did you decide to build Calabash Café in Edmonton?
A: We’re originally from South Korea but have lived here in Edmonton ever since. We have also run Hanul Art School since 2009, and when we found a location that we liked, we decided to move the art school adjacent to where we were building the café.”

Q: What are some of the ups and downs of running a unique café like Calabash?
A: “As I said, I was running an art school, and my husband also had a business to manage. We started the café with someone else as the operator, but that person suddenly dropped out. We were looking for other solutions but decided to run the café ourselves.

From then, we worked hard to learn everything from making coffee to managing a café. With the many risks involved in our business, we believe that if we were going to take on such risks, we could do something we love and are good at. That’s why we started BTS café, a concept my husband and I love and want to share with fellow ARMYs.

Q: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned while running Calabash Café so far?
A: “As I said, there were many risks in running our business, and I thought, “Will sincerity work?” As an ARMY-operated BTS café, I realized that fellow ARMYs could recognize and appreciate the effort we put into our business.”

Q: What rewards or benefits make you want to continue running Calabash Café?
A: “The free items given away at my café, such as cup sleeves, photos, and pin buttons, are all things that I, as a fan, would love to have and are designed and produced by myself in South Korea or locally. I am grateful for the opportunity to share and connect with fellow fans. I operate my café with this concept in mind and have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful friends and supporters, which is truly a joy.

Q: What kinds of foods and drinks do you sell at Calabash Café and why?
A: “Our signature drinks and food are Korean dishes adapted to suit local taste. We have also introduced Hoddeok (Korean sweet pancake) and Bungeoppang (fish-shaped pastry) because they are some of the favourite foods of the BTS members. One of our best-sellers is our Croffle (croissant waffle) that many customers love.”

Q: What are your plans for Calabash Café?
A: “People ask me this a lot. “Why don’t you host for other artists?” I am simply doing what I love. I can only hold events for artists I am familiar with. With Calabash Café, I plan to engage in more activities that can support the people I have met. I would love to meet anyone who engages in creative activities, regardless of whether they’re a BTS fan.

Calabash Café hosts birthday events for BTS’s members or album releases where you can get freebies such as cup sleeves, photo cards and pins with your drink. The café displays decorations for photo ops during the events.

Taste Korean food while looking at BTS memorabilia that you can check out while sipping your drink at the Calabash Café.



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