“I just want to roast coffee and drink coffee,” the Kiwi owner of Feel Good, a newly opened café in Daun Penh district, tells me with a grin.
His is the only café in Phnom Penh - and one of just a handful in Cambodia - to serve coffee that has been roasted, ground and brewed on-site. The unroasted green coffee beans haven’t travelled far from field to cup either: the brew’s a blend of Thai, Laotian and Cambodian beans.
Here, almost any kind of coffee you can imagine is available, whether you’re looking for the refreshing (iced coffee, $1.50), the Antipodean (flat white, $2.50) or the quirky (babyccino, $0.50).
While the milk in my flat white had been over-steamed, sporting a frothy head rather than a velvet smooth hood, the coffee itself was a smooth and rich brew, devoid of bitterness. My dining companion, a coffee aficionado, was very pleased with the crema on his espresso.
A black and silver stainless steal coffee bean roaster dominates the covered patio/open-air foyer, which extends from an indoor room to the street. Smooth teak tables and chairs dot the grey paved floor and an orange parasol stands at the front, like a beacon for coffee lovers.
It’s a tall, white building, encompassing some four floors, though the complex is of slender proportions, wedged like a slice of lemon in between two larger buildings. The Feel Good complex also houses a studio for classes such as yoga, salsa and lyrical hip-hop, and an “emporium” selling soaps, scarves and body scrubs.
The charming, chatty, and spirited staff were ready and willing to offer indecisive diners menu suggestions, and to indulge in conversation, which seemed spontaneous and friendly rather than forced. Regular customers, consisting predominantly of expats, were greeted with a hug and a peck on the cheek.
The menu is Western, with hints of Mexico and the Mediterranean. Sandwiches, tortilla wraps, salads and burgers line the menu and breakfast dishes are served all day.
An eager waiter recommended the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, lime hollandaise, grilled tomatoes and potato cakes ($7.50). The portions were very reasonably sized, and I, usually an insatiable eater, was incapable of clearing my plate. The eggs were well poached, the Hollandaise a sunny-coloured, buttery joy, and the tomatoes grilled to perfection. Sadly the potato cakes were too soft. A crisper cake, or a potato rosti, would have enlivened the dish, making the textures and flavours of each ingredient more pronounced.
Just two desserts were available when we visited - a brownie and a sticky date pudding. I opted for the brownie ($3.00), though I should forewarn you that I am of the dessert tribe that favours the fudgy, rather than cakey variety. I crave crunch and a soft dense centre. The brownies at Feel Good were a little powdery and crumbly in texture, and not rich enough for my liking.
While there are small details that require tending to, Feel Good definitely has a charm all of its own. I found myself savouring the pleasant aftertaste of the coffee, as well as the genuine hospitality of the staff, for several hours afterwards.
Feel Good Café and Roasters, #79, Street 136 Phnom Penh.