The first of the international coffee-shop brands to join the Phnom Penh market was Gloria Jean’s, which opened in April, 2010 on Street 51.
According to Gloria Jean’s general manager Anne Guerineau, in addition to the outlet that opened at the riverside location of Phnom Penh Port in December of 2011, there will be another opening soon at Kids’ City, another in Tuol Kork before the end of the year, and possibly two more Gloria Jean’s outlets in 2014.
Guerineau’s take on the emergence of Cambodia’s coffee culture is that it has created a new meeting point for people living in Phnom Penh.
“Before the coffee shops, you had the bars or rest-aurants to meet people to socialise. Bars open in the evening and restaurants open at meal times. In between, you didn’t have any real options.”
She says the coffee shops have created meeting points that didn’t exist before and have therefore offered something of real value to the local landscape.
“All kinds of people are meeting as long as they can afford a cup of coffee. We have students, working executives, top managers, housewives, consultants, Western expats, Asian expats and Cambodians.”
Since she arrived in Cambodia 14 years ago, Guerineau says the scene has really changed in a way that helps people connect at all levels.
“Before, you had places for each type of people: Westerners, Cambodians, rich and poor. Now everybody is meeting at the same place: older or younger, friends or business partners. This is what is new.”
She said there were never such places where such a variety of people could gather.
“This means the coffee-shop concept is offering a variety of needs: people can come for work, others can meet business partners, and some can come to relax, meet friends and work on student projects.
“Coffee shops really gather a variety of diverse populations, and this is unique. You didn’t have this before, and that’s why people are enjoying this concept. This is very inter-esting to see, and it reflects a change in the urban populat-ion of Phnom Penh.”
Guerineau says Gloria Jean’s customers really love the taste of the coffee, which she says is a little stronger than those of other outlets.
“Real coffee-lovers really love the taste of the coffee. We use only Arabica coffee, and we have a special blend. And we also sell it for $8 for a 200 gram bag and they sell well. We also sell teas, syrups, cocoa powders, mugs and plunger coffee makers so you can make your own at home.”
Gloria Jean’s best seller is the hot café latte followed by iced café latte.
“I’m very pleased that people had been accustomed to local coffee with condensed milk and we managed to convert them to fresh milk and Arabica beans because we use only fresh milk. Who would have thought Cambodian people would buy bottles of fresh milk? It’s incredible.
“You have the option of soy milk or skim milk. We can always personalise your drink, with vanilla or caramel syrup,” she says.
Another favourite Gloria Jean’s product is the Chiller, the name for the blended drinks including the popular Iced chocolate chiller, for $3, consisting of chocolate powder with fresh milk and ice, blended with whipped cream on top.
“We also add sprinkles, chocolate sauce, cinnamon powder and chocolate powder for free. That is value added.”
Open from 6:30am till 9:30pm, Gloria Jean’s has an English muffin breakfast with egg and bacon for $2.75 that is very popular.
The Gloria Jean’s concept was created in the US by a woman named Gloria Jean Kvetko. Today, there are about 1,000 outlets worldwide, half of them in Australia and the remainder in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
“Franchises make the life of the manager easier because you have the book, and all the team will read the book and obey the book. This also makes it easier for people who invest, and we have regular contact with the franchiser, get support from them, and this is very important.”
She says she knows it’s a good concept because there are 1,000 outlets in the world already.
“The good point of the franchise is the concept has been tested already and they know that it can work.We have to respect the standards, but the good thing at Gloria Jeans is they are flexible to localize a little bit.”
Gloria Jean’s also has cakes, pastries and Danishes and things range in price from $1 for small cookies to $4.50 for the ham sandwich.
Guerineau was deeply involved in the Camfood national barista competition and helped gather 18 contestants through the Cambodian Restaurants Association.
“This is one of the most popular competitions and this shows the dynamism of the sector. We even had people from Battambang. The winner was a Barista from Battambang.I was very proud to lead that championship. We have to forget competition and join together to create awareness of the profession of barista. The jury consisted of people from competing coffee shops, all of us together for the sake of coffee culture.”
She’s looking forward to another competition this year.
“We want to make the barista competition more and more important. It is very nice to meet together on this occasion.”
As for clientele, Gloria Jean’s has regular groups of women: Cambodian, Korean, French and other nationalities as well as family groups.
“We were the first internat-ional brand to come here, and we have a slight advantage because people have the brand in their mind, and the demand is growing and we are still doing well.”
Guerineau says that during the last three years she has noticed young people and students coming once a week at first, but now that they have graduated and are working, they can afford to come once a day.
Gloria Jean’s also has a “Cappy Hours” promotion every Thursday evening from 6:30 to 9:30: buy one, get one free.The latest Gloria Jeans, in Kids’ City, will open later this year.
“We are preparing our centralized kitchen with individual food-safe packaging and after Khmer New Year we will roll out a new exclusive menu with more than 20 dishes from breakfast sets to diner snacks,” Guerineau said.
Altogether, Gloria Jean’s has about 50 employees.“We have a lot of people who are staying, and we are happy.”