Long-time professional barista and former coffee shop owner Jimmy Campbell has set up a website that follows the development of coffee culture in Cambodia: www.coffee-cambodia.com .
The native of Glasgow, Scotland, who lived most of his adult life in Australia before coming to Cambodia in 1994 to manage the FCC, spends a lot of his time teaching people how to make the perfect cup of coffee.
It was here in Cambodia at the FCC that Campbell made his first cup of espresso in 1994.
“The coffee machine was a small domestic type that was just enough to serve the capacity of a small and more alcohol than coffee fueled clientele.The coffee was locally produced and came already ground. I’d have to say it wasn’t the best coffee but in those days we were grateful for any coffee that wasn’t instant,” he laughed.
When he returned to Australia, he bought into a café business in Sydney’s inner city, really learning the intricacies of the barista’s art including commercial espresso machine operation and the overarching importance of the grinder.
“Going back to live in Australia was where my real ‘coffee education’ began.I was totally captured by the beauty of the incredible Faema Espresso coffee machine that I was about to learn how to use. It was a thing of power and beauty.”
After a few days of intensive training and subsequent weeks of practice, Campbell finally had the confidence to be able to set the grinder, recognize the proper extraction time and the skill to froth the milk to a good standard.
“Three years of self-employment in the café business taught me a lot and gave me a good basis of barista experience. I then found myself moving from café owner to full-time professional barista,” Campbell says.
Working in Sydney’s central business district, he produced as many as 1,200 cups of coffee a day.
“Sydney people are up to date with their knowledge in coffee taste, so for them to come back to wait 10 or 15 minutes every day for their favourite cup was a testimony to the coffee being delivered
in their cup.”
After a dozen years of this kind of experience, including owning his own coffee shops, he returned to Cambodia and managed the Fresco group of cafes from 2008 to 2009.
“Barista training was an important part of that role. At that time Café Fresco was the number one coffee outlet and producing the best coffee. My relationship with the Fresco owners continued through 2010 and 2011 while working solely as Barista trainer, Campbell said.
Today, with his newly oper-ational website www.coffee-cambodia.com, Campbell is able to help users find a variety of good coffee places, where they can buy coffee machines, coffee wholesalers and even roasters.
“The website also offers users a chance to rate and review their favourite cafes,” Campbell said.
With 17 years of experience in the coffee business and training baristas in the care of the machines and in the art of the grind and the foam, Campbell is ready to take it to the next level.
“I can do coffee training on the premises, a basic barista training course, an advanced barista training course or whatever suits the customer’s needs. It involves a bit of theory but is mostly practical.”
Campbell stresses the importance of the grind.
“The grinder is underestimated and such an integral part of making the coffee. It is fundamental that the grind is set properly and checked regularly to get the proper extraction. An espresso should be 35 milliliters and should take 25 seconds to pour. It is all about balance and setting the grinders.”
He also likes to train people to master the art of milk foaming.
Campbell says cleaning the espresso machines of residue is vitally important. Another point is to deliver the coffee post haste when it is ready.
“Coffee cannot sit and wait on the counter. As soon as it is ready, it has to be delivered to the customer.”
As far as the explosion of coffee culture in Cambodia goes, Campbell says he’s happy to see more choices in the marketplace.
“Compared to 1994 when there were none, and 2008 when there were only three or four, I’m happy that there are places now available.”
Yet, he’s not happy with all the quality available.
“People are overcharging for what they are delivering. I think the development is going to take time.”
Yet, Campbell loves the coffee culture.
“From what I’ve seen, you can take your laptop, and get caramel or chocolate coffee and that is coffee heaven for you.”