No visit to Cambodia is complete without a tour round Angkor Wat or a bumpy ride on the Battambang bamboo railway. But even tourists need a bit of a caffeine fix if they’re anything like us.
Fortunately there are great coffee shops in Battambang and in Siem Reap.
In Battambang, KinYei is a bit of an institution, mainly among the expat community and tourists, but still it is worth a visit. Its address is in the magical sounding 1.5 Street, but it’s very easy to find, not far from the river, tucked away in a corner.
We were actually told about Kin Yei by the guys at Feel Good in Phnom Penh. Saphorn, the barista at Feel Good very graciously told us about the barista from Kin Yei who came first in the national barista championships (while he came second).
And we were lucky enough to have our cappuccinos made by Sakana, who won that 2013 signature cappuccino award. I don’t want to be heightest about these things (being 6’2”) but Sakana, at less than five foot high, and a delicate young woman, does not fit the usual mould of bearded, waist-coated thirty something males that dominate the western coffee world.
She makes a great coffee, though, proving that you need much testosterone to make a good coffee and we came back for more several times in our short stay in Battambang.
Kin Yei can get very full, mind you. If it’s not the local environmental cycling tours that operate out of the same building, it’s the expats working for the countless NGOs that seem to be based in Battambang.
So service can be bit confused and slow, but in the heat of Cambodia it’s hard to be in a rush anyway.
The coffee is excellent, since they get their beans from Feel Good in Phnon Penh. We DON’T recommend the ‘Khmer coffee’, which is about a quarter of the price, but tastes a bit like an instant Nescafe style.
So, best coffee in Battambang has to be at Kin Wei.
If you really like a home-baked cake with your cuppa, you could try Upstairs Café, across the river from the town centre on the road that runs along the river bank.
It has beautiful décor (though the music was rather loud to relax) and a verandah to sit on and watch people go by, but it uses big global brands for its tea and coffee, so is not somewhere we’ll be reviewing for the Fancy a Cuppa website. But it does do an excellent range of cakes, very western, very spongy, if it’s cake that you’re missing so far from home.
Adam opened his coffee shop in Siem Reap only a few weeks before our visit, but it already had the feel of THE place to go if you really like your coffee.
Adam also uses Feel Good Coffee at The Little Red Fox Espresso Bar and he knows how to make a good cappuccino (it’s the milk as much as the coffee, of course), that’s for sure. He also bakes a mean carrot cake, using his partner’s great grandmother’s recipe.
And unlike many coffee shops in Asia, this place opens really early, meaning we could nip in for a couple of takeaways before catching our long distance bus to Bangkok. Adam and partner were there on the dot of 6.30am – we were his first customers that day.
This is a fantastic addition to Siem Reap’s café scene. We didn’t try anywhere else in town but this surely must be the best coffee in Siem Reap.
Adam has done a great job moving over to Cambodia from his home in Brisbane and managing to set up a successful business in what is basically a matter of weeks. We wish him all the best in his new enterprise and hope he is still there in ten years’ time as he hopes!