Even the World Bank has figured out that Cambodia’s economy has been growing. They’ve elevated its economic status to “lower middle income.” Since the economy has been growing by 6 to 7 percent per year since before I came here almost 10 years ago, it kind of makes sense. Yes, there’s still a lot of poverty here, but there is also a growing middle class. You can see it in the traffic and you can see it in the coffee houses in Sihanoukville, which are going upmarket, but thankfully aren’t adding more to the cost of a cup of coffee.
I’ll start with the latest addition, Twin Lotus, a Cambodian owned restaurant. It’s beautifully decorated and they’ve done something with the acoustics. Unlike most noisy places, you don’t have to raise your voice to have a conversation. Well placed acoustic panels must be the answer. The clientele here is mostly Cambodian. I had a coffee with a friend here once and the richest man in Sihanoukville sat down with us. He was a nice guy, too. Some people get snobbish when they have money, but he was quite modest and seemed to really care about lifting Sihanoukville’s image.
Next on the list is Cafe del Mar. They’ve been around for a while now, but they had out of the way locations. One did well because of their steady clientele, but they’ve moved to Ekareach Street and seem to be busy all the time now. They’re right next door to EIS (Excellence in Service), the best English school in Sihanoukville (if not Cambodia). That might help explain why their clientele consists largely of Cambodians. My guess is that they stop in for a coffee after they drop their kids off at school.
Douceur du Cambodge or Artisan Café has been here for a long time. They serve great coffee and great pastries. They always kept their old location clean, but it was an old building, so it never looked very upmarket. They’ve moved to Ekareach Street and their new place is large and modern looking. Fortunately, they haven’t raised their prices. I go there almost every day because:
- They are so friendly
- Their cappuccinos are hot and not as milky as others
- Their pastries are world class
These are just three Sihanoukville coffee houses on Ekareach Street. There are many more. I’ve already written about the Ocean Box Café. That’s another one that’s frequented by more Cambodians than Westerners. It seems to be popular with students.
Then there’s Eno Café. They serve wonderful meals and have fresh bread, a few pastries and very good coffee. Like Artisan, they seem to have regular customers, but tourists looking for better quality coffee and/or food wander in as well.
I pinched this photo from Eno’s Facebook page.
There are others, too. Many have a largely Cambodian clientele and some have mostly barang. I sometimes complain about Sihanoukville’s growth, but there are perks. I can get world class coffee and pastries in Sihanoukville and at the prices they charge, I can indulge every day. If I lived in Australia, it would be a once or twice a week treat, if that.