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The entrance to the new Brown Coffee store located in Siem Reap.
The entrance to the new Brown Coffee store located in Siem Reap. Thik Kaliyann

Brown Coffee expands into Siem Reap with its first store

Brown Coffee and Bakery will officially launch its first store in Siem Reap on Saturday in the latest sign that the industry continues to see booming growth in Cambodia.

The newest coffee outlet will be Brown’s 13th store in the Kingdom, and Chang Bunleang, co-founder of the franchise, said there will a 14th store opening in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork neighbourhood in the near future.

“We have been looking at the Siem Reap market for the past few years and I am optimistic that we are coming to the city at the right time,” he said. “People are starting to have more income and more money to spend on coffee.”

Bunleang plans to target Siem Reap’s local population as its primary customer source and, despite the high number of tourists in the city, he hopes to form a loyal local fan base through the venue.

“We had a soft opening four days ago [yesterday] and most of the customers were local Cambodians and very few were foreigners,” he said. “We are looking to target return customers so we are focusing on locals and not so much on tourists.”

Starbucks coffee, one of the largest coffee retailers in the world, unveiled its largest store in Cambodia last week, adding to the two existing venues the beverage giant operates in Phnom Penh. Despite the increased competition, Bunleang sees the Starbucks expansion positively as it will help the local population gain an appreciation for coffee and the “coffee shop” experience.

“It is good for the coffee industry to have more shops and it is actually good overall for Cambodians to be more educated customers about coffee,” he said. “The customer base is getting bigger for now and the number of stores that are opening has yet to exceed customer demand.”

Yoeung Sarath, operations manager for the Costa Coffee franchise in Cambodia, said the coffee industry as a whole has seen major growth in the last two years. Costa Coffee already expanded its presence to Siem Reap and has one store in the city, though Sarath said it mostly attracts foreigners.

“Costa Coffee is very popular in Siem Reap, but 80 percent of our customers are tourists or foreigners,” he said. “When it comes to locals, the customers are mostly 25 years old or older.”

The brand’s popularity in the Kingdom’s major tourist destination stems from the international reach of its stores, making them easily recognisable for foreigners, Sarath said. Nevertheless, demand is still increasing.

“The coffee industry has grown 107 percent in 2016, whereas the food and beverage industry put together has grown 27 percent over the same period,” he said. “There are 22 major coffee brands, both international and local, operating in Cambodia and they currently run 116 stores in the country.”

The number of coffee shops has grown by 40 percent compared to 2015, Sarath explained, adding that people in Cambodia are now more inclined to regularly frequent the venues than before.

“People have more confidence to go to coffee shops now and it’s become similar to going to eat noodles at the market,” he said, adding that coffee venues occupy a more important part of people’s daily lives.

“Often people can go to coffee shops for an appointment, to go read, do an assignment or relax,” he said. “It is a multipurpose place.”

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