Little Black Drink

Here at LBD, we are all about the coffee. We will follow the smell of freshly roasted beans down any dark alley, into any fancy restaurant, gas station, or hole-in-the-wall, and sip with pleasure on a stool, standing at a bar, or enveloped by a plush armchair. 

If you, too, are all about the coffee, follow us. We are urban foragers in Chiang Mai, Singapore and Phnom Penh, sniffing out the best cafes and roasters with the acuity of a pointer on the hunt. Then pull on your boots with us in coffee country in rural Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. If you are bold enough, we might let you come with us on tour

Now come read the latest on our blog. 

Save Me A Seat: Cafe Espresso, Kampot (Cambodia)

"Save Me A Seat" is a new section of LBD featuring some of our favorite cafes from the cities we visit. For a more complete cafe listing for certain cities, search our blog for "The Grand Coffee Tour of ..."


KAMPOT! Our first featured cafe is in Kampot, Cambodia, a lovely town on the river in the south of Cambodia. It's about a two and a half hour drive from Phnom Penh, and 20 km from the ocean, which makes it a popular weekend retreat for Phnom Penhers. But really, with its laid-back vibe, French colonial architecture and lush river scenery, it's just a nice place all around. 

A comfy place to catch up on your social media over a few delicious cups of coffee and free wifi. 

A comfy place to catch up on your social media over a few delicious cups of coffee and free wifi. 

Cafe Espresso. This cool, rustic space is the work of Angus and Kiara, Aussie expats who make the exceptional cafe food and coffee here, and their very capable, friendly staff. It is an impressive cafe, where all orders are attended to by Gus, who will modestly assure you it is "too easy". 

The "one & one", a single espresso and a piccolo latte, both made with Cafe Espresso's signature Rumblefish Coffee. 

The "one & one", a single espresso and a piccolo latte, both made with Cafe Espresso's signature Rumblefish Coffee. 

The menu features standard brunch fare delivered with a focus on simplicity and fresh, local ingredients. Even the muffins for the Eggs Benedict are made in-house! We adore the homemade chorizo, and rarely leave Cafe Espresso without a side of sweet potato and taro fries.  But really, we've never had a bad (or even mediocre) meal at Cafe Espresso.

We have gotten into the dangerous habit of eating here most mornings when we are in Kampot (except for Mondays, when they are closed and everyone goes to Ellie's instead) and prefer to bring friends who are willing to share dishes so we can have perfectly poached eggs, a bit of potato rosti, a bit of the spiced chicken, and something sweet...

French toast-style waffles with bananas and salted caramel syrup. 

French toast-style waffles with bananas and salted caramel syrup. 

with their delicious salted caramel syrup-- pancakes, waffles, french toast or, on occasion, a milkshake. The homemade ginger beer is lightly sparkling and very refreshing (and about 6%ABV), and their slushy granitas will cure what ails you (especially if the previous day's activities have left you a bit... dehydrated). Oh, and always check the specials board before you order. We follow Cafe Espresso's facebook page, where new specials are often introduced as mouth-watering photos. Much to our dismay, Cafe Espresso does not yet deliver to Phnom Penh.  

The coffee here is great-- luckily for visitors to Kampot, Gus really shows up with roasting and barista skills. I'm pretty sure Cafe Espresso debuted the piccolo latte in Cambodia, and for that, we are forever grateful. The coffee comes hot or on ice; black or white; espresso, aeropress, filter or siphon.

Looks like it's time for another coffee. 

Looks like it's time for another coffee. 

What started out as a tiny roasting operation in the kitchen on a small metal drum rotated manually over a gas flame with Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese green coffee beans from Orussei Market in Phnom Penh, is now a serious roasting and supply business itself, dubbed "Rumblefish Specialty Coffee". We'll review the beans/roast in a separate post with black and white tasting notes, as is our custom.

Weekends and holidays are busy at Cafe Espresso, so take a load off and relax.

Weekends and holidays are busy at Cafe Espresso, so take a load off and relax.

Things get busy here on the holidays and weekends, but as long as you aren't in a rush, you are in for a treat. Peruse the menu, check out the found objects and murals on the walls, and perhaps you will catch yourself thinking you are in Melbourne! 

And when you go to Cafe Espresso, save us a seat. 

Cold Coffee: Disambiguation

With daytime temperatures around 40C, we turn to cold coffee to combat the heat and give us an energy boost when the heat and humidity threaten to turn us into a useless puddle. 

Some cafes serve "cold brew", others "cold drip" and still others "iced coffee" and even "ice coffee". What does it all mean? And which should you order?

To start, let's set out some definitions (alphabetically, so you can refer back any time). These are not industry-standard, so if your cafe uses different language, start a conversation with the barista and ask them about it! And check back next week for our post comparing the flavors of different cold brew methods....

Our morning brew-- a cold brew concentrate with tonic water and a wedge of lemon! 

Our morning brew-- a cold brew concentrate with tonic water and a wedge of lemon! 

Affogato: Not technically an iced coffee, but a delicious cold coffee concoction that we wanted to include. Made of a scoop of ice cream with a single shot of espresso poured on top. 

Cold Brew: a generic term referring to coffee brewed in cold or room temperature water. This can mean any of the variations of a Cold Immersion Brew or Cold Drip coffee.

Cold Drip: a brewing method where cold water (usually from melting ice cubes) is dripped slowly, at a controlled rate, onto a bed of coffee grounds. The traditional apparatus for making a Cold Drip coffee is called a Drip Tower. The most internationally-known drip tower brands are Hario and Yama (see also, Japanese Cold Brew, Taiwanese Cold Brew, and Dutch Coffee, below), but new equipment is being introduced all the time to make this process more accessible. You can also rig an aeropress and a soda bottle to make cold drip inexpensively at home. 

Cold Immersion Brew: coffee grounds are soaked (immersed) in cool or cold water for an extended period of time (usually 12 to 24 hours). There are many ways to do this, at room temperature or in a refrigerator, using a bucket or a french press or a Toddy, Filtron or SoftBrew.

Dutch Coffeesame as Cold Drip

Ice Drip Coffee: same as Cold Drip.  

Iced Americano: A hot (double) shot of espresso served over ice and topped up with water.  Stay tuned for our next article about how the flavors are different when you put hot coffee on ice, versus cold brewing! 

Iced Coffee: Any coffee served over ice. This can be an iced Americano, a cold brew, a cold drip, Japanese-style Iced Coffee etc. 

Japanese (or Japanese-style) Iced Coffee:  Further disambiguation needed here. Japanese Iced Coffee can refer to (1) a cold filter brew made by pouring HOT water over coffee grounds (less water than you would normally use to make a hot filter coffee), and then pouring the resulting concentrated hot coffee over ice like this or this, or (2) a Cold Drip method using a Japanese-made drip tower like Hario.

Khmer Iced Coffee: coffee concentrate brewed hot, usually using a metal drip filter or a Japanese cloth drip method, made from coffee beans roasted dark and usually coated in palm oil, pork fat or margarine, served over ice with sweetened condensed milk or sugar syrup. 

Kyoto (or Kyoto-style) (Drip) Coffee: same as Cold Drip. This article explains it well. 

Nitro Cold Brew (aka Nitrogenated Cold Brew): Coffee that is infused with nitrogen, resulting in a drink that looks like a Guinness, but is made only of coffee and nitrogen gas (not alcoholic). See how US coffee house Cuvee describes their Nitro Cold Brew, called Black and Blue, in this video

Slow Drip Coffee: same as Cold Drip.

Taiwanese Cold Brew or Taiwanese Iced Coffee: This is a Cold Drip method. It is called "Taiwanese" because the Yama glass company who makes these drip towers is located in Taiwan. 

Vietnamese Iced Coffee: like Khmer Iced Coffee, a coffee concentrate made from hot water and local beans dripped through a metal filter, and served over ice with either sweetened condensed milk or sugar syrup.

Water Drip Coffee: same as Cold Drip.

Any questions? Leave a comment! 

Next time, we'll talk about the mechanics and chemistry of different cold brew methods and how they effect the taste. 

Best Coffee in Phnom Penh

Coffee fiends, 

We have been pounding the pavement in Phnom Penh to bring you our list of the best places for coffee in the "Charming City". Check out our recommendations:

And let us know in the comments where your favourite place to drink coffee is in Cambodia's capital! 

Drink Me: Lao Single Origin Arabica (Feel Good Coffee Roasters, Cambodia)

Lao Single Origin

Tasted at: Feel Good Coffee II

Roaster: Feel Good Coffee Roasters

Beans: arabica typica

OriginKhamsone Souvannakhily, Bolavens Plateau, Laos 

Roast profile: full city

Flavour profile - 

Black: zesty, orange marmalade with fig, toasted nuts and raspberry seed

Drink Me: Feel Good Blend (Feel Good Coffee Roasters, Cambodia)

Feel Good Blend

Tasted at: Feel Good Coffee 

Roaster: Feel Good Coffee Roasters

Beans: arabica and robusta

Origin(s): northern Thailand (arabica); Luang Prabang, Laos (arabica); Mondulkiri, Cambodia (robusta)

Roast profile: full city/ full city+

Flavour profile - 

Black: bold, round, good balance of medium bright lemon blossom acidity and dark chocolate.

White: Holds up very well and sweetens in milk.