Coffee in Cambodia’s Northern Mondulkiri Province
When it comes to coffee, Cambodia will probably never be able to compete with the scale of neighboring Vietnam’s vast operations. Although Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world, Cambodia has been carving out its own niche with some decent and inexpensive coffee that’s mostly produced in the cooler province of Mondulkiri.
One of the bigger brands from the region is Chay Mao Mondulkiri Coffee. On my first day in Sen Monorom, the capital of the province, I had some of their ground coffee in a French press. It had a bit of sweet aftertaste even when taken black that I didn’t much care for. It wasn’t the most promising taste of the region’s coffee.
The next day, I went right to the source (sort of) and had a couple cups at the Chay Mao Mondulkiri Coffee roadside café. It’s hard to miss this basic yet appealing café on road 76, just a couple kilometers south of the bull monument roundabout.
There was a very slight sweet aftertaste, but the hot coffee I ordered black was excellent and I quickly ordered a second one. I’m not exactly a connoisseur and I have no qualms with drinking the cheap coffees sold by mobile cafes in Phnom Penh, but this was great stuff that tasted fresher than any other coffee I’ve had before. The total bill for two coffees and a big cup of instant noodles was just $2.15.
Seeing places like this roadside café is definitely a treat for caffeine junkies like myself. In 2009, locally made coffee was almost nonexistent in Cambodia. Now, the market is growing but it’s difficult to try Cambodian coffee outside of the country. Barely any of this coffee is exported, as the Phnom Penh Post reported that only 1.2 tonnes were shipped abroad in 2011.
Oh, and if you’re looking for good Cambodian ground coffee, check out Three Corners Coffee. They have a few blends and it’s definitely some of the better stuff available in Cambodian stores.
I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?