As Phnom Penh’s appetite for coffee continues to rage, editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Enric Català sample the concoctions available at the capital’s Feel Good.
If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in Phnom Penh it’s coffee shops, with new cafés seemingly cropping up daily.
The good news is the saturation means punters can be picky over where they choose to enjoy their daily coffee fix. This makes the coffee shop business a tough game, but it is a recipe that Feel Good has perfected during its almost five-year tenure in the increasingly competitive capital.
The ethos behind Feel Good is not only putting pride into the coffee that is poured into each cup but to raise the industry, training an army of world-class baristas along the way.
“We try to introduce speciality coffee and get the best selection of unique organic, Fairtrade beans from across Southeast Asia,” says general manager and business partner Sophorn Phan, adding each farm is visited before business begins. “We also want to create a real coffee industry in Cambodia and provide education around that.”
It is this ambition, combined with perfecting in house roasting skills and offering excellent service that has helped Feel Good survive, thrive and expand.
With two coffee shops in Phnom Penh – the original Street 136 shop and Street 29’s leafy option – all of the usual coffees are served, from Americano ($1.75) and iced coffee ($1.75), to hot chocolate ($2.70) and homemade chai latte ($2.75).
Ahead of Feel Good further expanding this month, snapping up a spot at Factory Phnom Penh – a mixed-use office, creative and co-working space, with the first phase slated to open as AsiaLIFE went to print – we sampled some of the latest creations available on the menu.
In May, Feel Good staff secured the top two spots in the annual Cambodia Barista Championship, making sampling these innovative creations a must.
Sang Peth’s FG2 concoction wowed judges when it scooped the top spot. Made from ginger juice, a shot of espresso and sugar syrup, three ice cubes are added, with a slice of ginger placed atop.
The result is a refreshing cold brew. The flavours are balanced, with the ginger adding a kick that is cooled by the bitterness of the coffee’s faint chocolate bite and the sweet sugar syrup.
“I wanted to use ingredients that are Khmer,” says Peth, referring to the ginger and Khmer coffee beans, which he roasts.
Next up was runner-up Kakada Nub’s Mama Piccolo. “I made this for my mum,” he says, adding that she celebrates Christmas every year, with the food she makes providing the inspiration for his coffee.
Harnessing festive flavours, Canadian maple syrup is blended with pistachio nuts, cloves, Vietnamese coffee and milk. The pistachio adds a hint of floral, the syrup a smack of sweet, and the red bourbon beans, sourced from Dalat, introduce notes of salted caramel and bitter chocolate. However, it is the spice of the cloves that holds the true Christmassy flavour, and the drink warms the heart.
With staff eager to play with their coffee concoctions and continuing to scour the region for more unique beans, this is one coffee shop that is set to stay.