Street coffee

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james ten
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Street coffee

Post by james ten » Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:47 pm

I don't mind the 1-2000 Riel coffee you get along the streetside, but on more than 1 occasion now, and at different places, the taste of it leaves me wondering what has been put in it?
I can't describe it, it is sort of an artificial chemical flavor. The first time I tasted it, I thought perhaps it was soap residue from the cup not being rinsed properly. But when I tasted the exact same thing again at another place, I think it is definitely a common ingredient, which now leaves me worried (it is not a natural taste, it is not a taste I would consider natural to coffee).

I have now stopped dropping in to random streetside vendors for coffee, and sticking to just a few that I know taste like what it should taste like.

Anyone else notice this? I can't be imagining it, it is a VERY distinct taste, just hard to describe.
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Re: Street coffee

Post by Advocatus Diaboli » Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:53 pm

james ten
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Re: Street coffee

Post by james ten » Sun Aug 30, 2015 3:11 pm

Far out, good chance it was something like that...
Got to be so weary of everything here...
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Re: Street coffee

Post by TheGrinchSR » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:00 pm

I love living in this country. The expat motto is "everything's a rip off". Then they find a bargain. Then they find that the bargain is tainted. Then they sulk about it.

Rather than living by a motto that has served people well for centuries; "If it seems too good to be true - it probably is."

Real coffee costs money because it requires beans, roasting, grounding, cups to put it in, etc. Then you have staff costs, cart costs, bribes to the local's "finest", etc. Knowing all of that - why would anybody trust a cup of coffee that cost 1,000 Riel when sold to them on the street?
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Re: Street coffee

Post by Kuroneko » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:05 pm

We had a whole thread about this here Active substances in street coffee
https://cambodiaexpatsonline.com/general ... e%20coffee
Here's what AE86 had to say, who ran a coffee business here:
AE86 wrote:I’m surprised to see coffee being the subject of discussion recently (either that or I’m just dense and don’t read everything, which is very possible). Seems like it's popped up on K440 as well.

Either way I’ll set the score somewhat straight, as I have first hand experience. I was also that poster on K440 (AK87) who had gone out of business, and actually reopened or rather helped my cousin open a shop to sell coffee again in Cambodia.

To make the most sense of what coffee is here, imagine three types.

1. Actual Coffee. Very rarely less than $8-10 kg. Actual beans, what we are all (usually) used to. These are coffee “seeds” as the beans aren’t technically beans, but rather cherry pits.

2. Soy bean - Corn - Coffee blends, the “safe” kind. Rarely less than $4.50-6 kg. Soybean/Corn coffee isn’t exactly bad stuff by itself nor is it illegal. To explain what I mean, just think of what coffee itself is. A seed that is cooked and then brewed with boiled water. Not much different in concept than a soy bean or kernel of corn which are not only seeds, but food as well. I love soy milk and corn flakes, so I have no qualms of eating either one.

Mixing roasted soybeans, corn and coffee together can in fact make some unique flavors, and especially when the addition of many ingredients during the roasting process such as:sugar, cream, caramel, and cocoa beans, it can make some very interesting drinks indeed.

There are many very large coffee companies that not only sell real coffee beans, but also take part in the soybean coffee market because they are fully aware that some people have a sweeter tooth than others, and likewise, some people don’t like the complex bitterness of straight coffee.

Therefore, soy coffee itself is just another drink and can be healthy (well, not healthy like how fizzy pops and sugary drinks are not healthy), but far from being toxic to one’s health in comparison to what’s below.


3. Soy coffee, the dangerous kind. Anywhere from $2-4 kg. Like many unregulated businesses in Cambodia, there are far too many greedy people willing to put other’s health on the line and will dump anything they please into the coffee in order to make it taste “better” and sell better for cheaper.

It hurts me to say this, but I’ve seen people make all kinds of shit by using things such as (and I do not make any of this up as I’ve seen it with my own eyes): soap, msg, sulfuric acid (small amounts), charcoal, street alcohol, artificial sweeteners, dirt and much more I am sure that I haven’t seen because there are fake makers everywhere. I know of one that lives 6 houses away from my cousin, and despite complaints to the police, they’ve done jack shit to stop him. He’s still in business as of today (I saw him).

So any coffee you see in Cambodia is going to be soy coffee and unfortunately, a vast majority of it is going to be the potentially dangerous kind. It doesn’t mean all coffee is dangerous, but rather, it means that coffee is completely unregulated and fully exposed to any kinds of alterations, additions, and “corruptions” that people want to throw in.

So in response to what is actually in coffee? Your best guess is as valid as anyone else's.


There’s a bit too much to write here, but if anyone has further curiosities, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

-Akira (AK87)
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Re: Street coffee

Post by Advocatus Diaboli » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:18 pm

TheGrinchSR wrote:I love living in this country. The expat motto is "everything's a rip off". Then they find a bargain. Then they find that the bargain is tainted. Then they sulk about it.

Rather than living by a motto that has served people well for centuries; "If it seems too good to be true - it probably is."

Real coffee costs money because it requires beans, roasting, grounding, cups to put it in, etc. Then you have staff costs, cart costs, bribes to the local's "finest", etc. Knowing all of that - why would anybody trust a cup of coffee that cost 1,000 Riel when sold to them on the street?
Let's do the calculation Grinch :) A pound (500 grams) of good coffee costs you around Euro 5.90 (in Europe). You will need about 7 grams per cup of coffee. That would add up to about 8 Euro Cents per cup...that's around Riels 300 to 400 I guess. So a price of Riels 1000 in a Cambodian coffee shop with almost no overhead costs should be possible.
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Re: Street coffee

Post by TheGrinchSR » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:25 pm

Advocatus Diaboli wrote:
TheGrinchSR wrote:I love living in this country. The expat motto is "everything's a rip off". Then they find a bargain. Then they find that the bargain is tainted. Then they sulk about it.

Rather than living by a motto that has served people well for centuries; "If it seems too good to be true - it probably is."

Real coffee costs money because it requires beans, roasting, grounding, cups to put it in, etc. Then you have staff costs, cart costs, bribes to the local's "finest", etc. Knowing all of that - why would anybody trust a cup of coffee that cost 1,000 Riel when sold to them on the street?
Let's do the calculation Grinch :) A pound (500 grams) of good coffee costs you around Euro 5.90 (in Europe). You will need about 7 grams per cup of coffee. That would add up to about 8 Euro Cents per cup...that's around Riels 300 to 400 I guess. So a price of Riels 1000 in a Cambodian coffee shop with almost no overhead costs should be possible.
No overheads? What about the glass/cup it is served in? What about the washing up liquid to clean that? What about the fuel required to make the coffee? What about the soy milk or condensed milk to accompany it? And so on...

Nice try though, it's the assumption that these things are all free that leads people to expect the ridiculous. Normal margins on something like this in terms of raw material costs would be 4-5x the raw materials. You can dream of a better world but it won't make it so.
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Re: Street coffee

Post by vladimir » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:29 pm

TheGrinchSR wrote:What about the washing up liquid to clean that?
Hahahaha, good one! :lol:
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Re: Street coffee

Post by TheGrinchSR » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:31 pm

vladimir wrote:
TheGrinchSR wrote:What about the washing up liquid to clean that?
Hahahaha, good one! :lol:
Yeah, fair enough. What about the saliva and the cloth then? ;-)
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Re: Street coffee

Post by Advocatus Diaboli » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:32 pm

But mostly they are charging now Riel 2000 for a cup......that should cover the things you have mentioned. These little Cambodian coffee shops are family run, they pay $5 - 10 "taxes" a month under the table and surely they don't use washing up liquid :roll: .
Anyway, I think it's possible to offer real coffe for this price. It's the typical Cambodian greed again that makes them buy fake coffee.
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