Phnom Penh coffee lovers are rising before the crack of dawn to get their morning caffeine fix.
While many high-end local and international restaurants are penetrating the F&B industry, some traditional cafe owners seem indifferent to the competition as they continue business as usual, gathering crowds from as early as four in the morning.
A 50-year-old lady who owns a cafe in Phnom Penh, which acts as a mini restaurant around Orussey Market, alongside her husband, said she has heard from her customers about major coffee shops operating in the main areas of the city, but has never worried about those outlets pulling away her customers.
She said, “It’s not a concern [for me] because most of my customers are regulars. Most of them are middle-aged adults up to 60 years old, and they have always been coming to my cafe from as early as 4am.”
“What’s even better is that we sell black coffee for 1,500 riel and 2,000 riel for black coffee with milk. Even at that price, some have complained that it’s too expensive,” she said.
40-year-old Chea Menggy has a family history of operating cafes, as well as food stalls serving rice and coffee for breakfast, for many years.
He is currently renovating the few cafes that he owns. He said, “For as long as I remember, the middle-aged adults have been drinking coffee the same way. They wake up really early and exercise or come meet their friends at a coffee shop regularly at 4 am.”
“Those middle-aged regulars don’t eat much. They only need one hot black coffee and char kway (a type of Chinese fried breadstick)then they sit and talk, sometimes till sunrise. Some would wait for more of their friends, as they move their coffee or tea to another table to talk to their other newly arrived friends,” he added.
“We usually call those regulars ‘coffee cheerers’,” said Menggy.
According to him, similar types of cafes can be easily found especially around Orussey Market, Phsar Chas, Kandal Market, and Russian Market.