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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Café Namu means Tree in Korean

Café Namu means Tree in Korean

12 Brandon Cho and Sonamidich Katam

Café Namu owners Brandon Cho and Joo Hyung Song, both from Korea, gave the Korean name for tree as the name for their coffee shop.

Established on February 10, 2012 Café Namu is located at the corner of streets 310 and 57 in the Chamkar Mon District and focuses on a healthy, organic concept in smoothies and food.

Cho arrived in Cambodia five years ago to invest in cassava farming and commercial trading.

“I discovered it was hard to find good bread and coffee that could satisfy me at that time,” he said.  

So, he opened his own coffee shop, filled it with plants and greenery and gave it the concept of a plantation.

Cho says the coffee houses springing up in the BKK1 area are starting to saturate the market.

 “There are already 45 coffee shops in BKK area and by comparison to the market size, there is more supply than demand right now.”

Based on the population and market size, he believes there will come a time when some of the coffee shops will start to close down.

“I believe that those who can survive during this period will be the winners in the end,” Cho said.

Cho said Café Namu is creating its own franchise and planning to open a second outlet in Tuol Kork in the middle of this year focusing on organic food.

Cho has a degree in Finance and Accounting for Indiana University in the United States and spent most of his life there working in finance.  He also worked in Belgium.

He’s one of the shareholders in a Kratie Province cassava plantation of 6,600 hectares. He also trades in tapioca powder for the Chinese and Korean markets and is also interested in rice trading.

Cho’s manager at Café Namu, Sonamidich Katam, worked his way up from barista and is now creating a new menu.  

Café Namu is mostly packed around breakfast and lunch time. Italian Arabica coffee is used at Café Namu and the most popular drinks are cappuccino, café latte and green tea latte.  Strawberry and avocado are the two most popular smoothies. For food items, the Namu salad with balsamic dressing is popular at $3.20 as is the club sandwich at $3.40.

Sonamidich Katam said Café Namu is now offering three kinds of Korean style promotions including 30 percent discounts on all breads and cakes at the end of the day from 6 pm to 10 pm along with 15 per cent discounts on orders with the presentation of a receipt within seven days.  Customers who have student identification cards from all Cambodian schools get a fifteen per cent discount.

Cho said Namu’s talented Korean chef and new concept of organic foods and beverages will help them prevail in the increasing market saturation of coffee houses.

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