Brown Coffee opened its first outlet in 2009, and it now owns nine cafes. The lastest is the Roastery and Eatery, a plush cafe in the heart of Phnom Penh
If locations were known by their drugs, Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang district would be high from coffee. The corner of almost every leafy street is dominated by a Western-style cafe, where members of the growing young Cambodian middle class become acquainted with caffe lattes and cappuccinos while they type away furiously on their Macbook Pros.
There is one chain, in particular, that stands out. Cambodian-run Brown Coffee opened its first outlet in 2009 and it now owns eight others in the capital as well as Fox Wine Bar and bubble-tea cafe Gong Cha.
These nine include a brand new cafe in AEON Mall, which opens officially on June 30. And in the middle of Boeung Keng Kang, right opposite the Street 57 branch, Brown opened a brand new Roastery and Eatery yesterday. Until now, all of Brown’s coffee beans have been roasted with partners in Bangkok, said Chang Bunleang, 28, the group’s chief executive, of what has become the Kingdom’s coffee empire. But to further their commitments to the local economy – hiring Cambodian staff, operating as much as possible in the country – they have brought a coffee roaster to Phnom Penh, which is one of the first in the capital, according to Chang.
“Before, we were just using Thai coffee beans from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, which we were roasting in Bangkok, but our management team wanted to cut one of the supply chains and bring it to Phnom Penh. Cost-wise it’s good for us and it’s good for the development of the team,” Chang said, sipping on a Sumatran cold brew at the Roastery.
The roaster belongs to the American brand Loring and has been imported all the way from California. But Chang was inspired by the best coffee shops in Japan, which he said use the same machine.
“We wanted to show our customers what they are drinking – not just doing it for the sake of it, and the coffee beans will be roasting in house, at the back”, he said.
He added that 50 per cent of Brown’s coffee beans will still be roasted in Bangkok. All of the outlets share a unique style of design, but the Roastery and Eatery is a step further.
Although the same designer has worked on its interior, it’s bigger and airier, a welcome break from the crowded branches in the rest of the city. Downstairs, the counter is twice the size of its counterparts in other company outlets, and there are more staff. Above the counter is an upstairs area with more seating.
On the counter are displayed various coffee-related utensils that rather resemble equipment from a Hogwarts classroom in the world of Harry Potter: on a wooden stand, for example, sit three glass funnels which produce the cold brew.
The new Roastery and Eatery is introducing new beans – and new ways of brewing – to Phnom Penh. Customers can now try blends from Sumatra, Laos and Colombia in either cold brew, hand drip or the classic espresso-based style. The food menu has also diverted from the standard lists. Customers can eat dishes such as burgers – bread baked in house – or a meat platter, and a selection of wines will also be on offer.
“The thing with the coffee shop is that even the food has to be something simple. Right now the strength of the coffee house is quite strong: not just in the US or in Europe, but I think it’s taking off in Asia now,” said Chang.
Brown Roastery and Eatery is at the corner of Street 57 and 294