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Bringing San Francisco to Phnom Penh

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Bringing San Francisco to Phnom Penh

After running a successful café and bakery for 13 years in San Francisco, Khmer-American David Chiv felt a calling to return to his homeland to impart the skills he had learned from America. And while walking into Digby’s Grocer & Café certainly pays homage to a modern western delicatessen, there is a lot more behind it then the chic industrial themed design decorated with antiques and a large black and white photo of ‘lunch atop a skyscraper’ that hangs above the café.

Together with his wife Amy, Digby’s was formed out a shared passion and vision to bring a creditable enterprise into the Cambodian marketplace while creating an iconic space that gives customers the feeling as if they were—albeit briefly—whisked out of Phnom Penh.

“We want our customers to feel like they are sipping coffee in a crisp cold morning in Seattle, or San Francisco, while taking in the real coffee aroma and fragrance,” said Amy.

“The aroma of a good cup of coffee can last for hours,” said David, before explaining how the key to a perfect cup is more than just hot water and turning on a grinder.

“To make the perfect cup of coffee you have to understand the coffee bean, the proper temperature and humidity. You don’t just turn on an espresso machine and watch it come out. You have to be educated and have passion for coffee and love of the customer,” he said.

Amy went on to say how some of the hottest selling items aren’t just the typical espressos and lattes, but that their blended drinks that include a Peppermint Mocha Frappe and the new White Chocolate Frappe, are also very popular.

“It’s made from the famous and yummiest white chocolate from Ghirardelli San Francisco. Similar to all our chocolate based drinks, it is made from the real Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate,” she said.

With a long list of gourmet beverages that include fresh fruit smoothies, David was quick to point out that a traditional café is more than just a coffeehouse. “It is a restaurant.”

With Australian Angus burgers, delicious sandwiches that Amy chided are often too big for customers to finish, homemade cold cuts and organic salads, Digby’s has a full menu to satiate the palate.

“Our burgers and sandwiches are as good as in New York and San Francisco. For evenings, our delicious sizzling steaks—USA Prime or Australian grass-fed beef—are highly recommended,” she said.

Although a remarkable menu with quality products is important, both David and Amy are firm believers that service and high standards is what makes a dining experience indelible.

“Having a high standard is more than just serving coffee and food. It starts with the people, from the bottom to the top, from kitchen to service to management,” said Amy adding that “we want all of our employees to be in-line with our expectation to strive for excellence.”

By continually focusing on customers, Digby’s is set to launch a new menu in June.

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