"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.
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 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...
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.
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.
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.