Designer coffee carts, coffee carts for tourists, weren’t popular when I was here the first time. I’m not sure there were any – I don’t remember seeing them, and I would have sought them out. There was the cafe halfway to Stung Mean Chey – “European Coffee, Khmer Cafe!” that sold iced mochas at a steep discount. I remember once I asked the driver to pull over so I could buy a quartet – 3000 riel apiece – to take to work.
Now the coffee carts are all over Boeng Keng Kang and along Sihanouk Boulevard – Teenager Coffee (pink), Thai Coffee (pastel burnt orange, like Thai iced tea), #1 Coffee Bean (black accented with red), Morning Coffee (green), Lyda Coffee (rose purple). They’re designed to capture a different set of customers than the people who came to the traditional, unadorned hand carts with racks full of red and green bottles of Samurai. They’re designer coffee, slogans and names in English, and they advertise traditional Khmer iced coffee with sweet milk along with milk teas and Western-style coffee. And they typically charge more – twice as much, for the carts on Sihanouk.
They’re usually staffed by young women who perch inside; sometimes one will mix the drinks and the other will translate orders. I’ve seen at least one that’s a social enterprise – near Russian Market – and several have multiple carts.
Yesterday, on the way to an interview, I sighted a Hygiene Coffee cart, whose slogan is, “Good Coffee is Like Friendship,” and I bought an iced coffee with sweet milk so I could take some pictures: