The largest supplier of coffee machines in Cambodia, Kofi Co. Ltd, started in May, 2009 with five employees and now has 40. One of the most pop-ular machines in use by coffee shops is the La Marzocco, which is hand-made in Florence, Italy.
According to Kofi business development manager Khim Chhean, the La Marzocco machine was made famous by Starbucks. They are also in use at Brown, Gloria Jean and other coffee shops in Cambodia.“The La Marzocco is known as the Ferrari of coffee machines and costs more than $10,000,” she said.
Another brand of coffee machine is Astoria, also from Italy.
Khim Chhean says the Astoria is a more high-technology machine, with very stable temperature and pressure controls.
During the last few years, Kofi has become well known to the coffee market in Cambodia.“For anyone who wants to open a coffee shop, they come straight to us,” she said. “We are also well known for our services. If they buy the machines from us we teach them how to use the machine, and if they buy the coffee from us, we train the baristas.”
She said the first thing to remember is to wait until the machine has heated up and to grind the perfect grind.
“A perfect grind is not too coarse and not too fine. If the grind is too coarse it will be weak, and if it is too fine it will be burnt and bitter.For a good cup of coffee you need three fundamentals. The coffee has to be fresh and good quality.
The machinery has to be stable with temperature and pressure and the barista has to know basic understanding about coffee and know how to make a good cup of coffee.”
Khim Chhean said Baristas needed to know all about the storing and packaging of the coffee, the roasting, the grinding and how to clean the machines.“If you don’t clean the machine, the residue can affect the quality of the coffee.”
Another coffee shop essential is fresh, cold milk.
“You can only make froth from zero to 40 degrees. Otherwise, it won’t froth up to nice, smooth foam.”
She says a barista is more like a bartender or a chef.
“They can interact with customers who may want something special or custom. Baristas need to be flexible and be able to customize drinks.”
At Kofi, the training of baristas depends on the passion of the student.“We teach the concept, and guide the student through the process and it all depends on practicing.
“It depends on the barista. If they’re more passionate about coffee and willing to learn, they’ll have good results. If they're lazy, no matter how much you teach them, the results won’t be good.”
According to international trends, she said, coffee is becoming a necessity for people, more than a luxury.
“Once you drink coffee, it helps you go through your day. It is more like a need. If you look at Singapore or Bangkok, there is a coffee shop on every corner and Phnom Penh is just catching up. I can feel that it is only going to grow because more and more Cambodian population are getting used to this type of coffee rather than the traditional drip coffee.”
The machines are all about the extraction of pure, concentrated coffee to drink. That extract can be made into a variety of products such as a cappuccino or a latte.“We are the only company with the professional machine cleaning service.
“Even if a coffee shop doesn’t even have our machine, they still come to us for servicing. Companies like T&C and Topaz really like our services.Service is the key for us, whether they buy from us or not. Our tagline says. ‘Customer business is our priority.’ ”
The machines need regular service because scale from the water builds up in the machines’ boiler.
“We bring our machine for the customer to use, and bring their machine back, clean it and adjust it. Just in case of their machine breaks down, their operation stops. That’s why we put our machine for them to use so they can still continue making money. If they are broken, they would lose a lot of money.”