Coffee

I dedicate this post to Angie Rippy, my partner in crime (aka co-barista) at the Beaner’s on Ottawa Street, downtown Lansing.

Many of my fellow PCVs, upon first arriving in our training villages, were more than a little alarmed about what was going to happen in the wake of severe withdrawal. Withdrawal, that is, from caffeine. As it happens, one cannot simply walk down the block to the inevitable Starbucks or, more ideally, liberal-politics-talking-Ray-Ban-wearing-snob-filled indie coffee shop around the corner. (Some of you may be happy to know that there’s not a single Starbizzle in the whole of Kampuchea.)

Not to worry, though! Guess what? I drink coffee almost every day! And it’s crazy-delicious (even more so than Mr. Pibb and Red Vines)!

The secret to Kmai coffee is this: sweetened condensed milk. You can get a tall glass (or a grande, 16 oz or medium, as they say, depending on where you feed your addiction) of sweetened iced coffee for just fifty cents! Very good for the bank account, very bad for addicts with heart conditions. And iced coffee is truly a blessing on an unreasonably hot day in Cambodia. You can even order your coffee with modifiers, for those of you who feel your coffee-getting experience is not complete unless you have loudly made it known how special your order is: with or without sugar; with or without milk; with or without sweetened-condensed milk (yes, they tend to add sugar even when using the sweetened-condensed milk); iced or hot; bag or glass. Well, actually you can’t get the hot coffee in a bag, that would probably just result in third-degree burns and a lot of lost face.

Iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk is good unto itself. My favourite thing to have with hot coffee, though, is a kind of nohm (or “cake”) which I won’t attempt to Romanize here, but if you visit me I WILL BUY IT FOR YOU. It is delicious. It is long and vaguely rectangular and tastes reminiscent of a plain doughnut, and two of them are stuck together so it kind of reminds me of a double helix. Pulled apart and dipped in hot coffee, this is reason enough to visit Cambodia.

The other remarkable thing about Kmai coffee is how well it travels. As a recovering barista (I’ll always be one at heart, you can’t stop me), I’m used to going places with a latte-filled paper cup in my hand. Portable coffee in Kampuchea, however, comes in small plastic bags, suitable for about 20 ounces, and perfect for hanging on your bike handle. Just don’t forget a straw. One looks like something of a tool drinking out of the side of a plastic bag (though it can be done). ^_^

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Coffee

  1. Patrick S

    Two things
    1 – OM nohm!

    2 – I’m pretty sure that the Spanish Latte at Espresso Royale is made with what is essentially sweetened condensed milk or something similar. It has been my favorite coffee drink from espresso royale for years (my favorite non-coffee drinks being ginger dragon and mint hot cocoa)

    Also, 3rd thing (I lied):
    3 – Hope everything is going great in Cambodia, keep us (read: me) posted! Miss you and can’t wait for you to be back!

  2. Angie

    Woot, I’m famous!

    It’s good to hear that it’s easy (and so cheap!) to stay caffeinated. Could you imagine if all the Peace Corps went through withdrawals at the same time? It’d be the crankiest Corp ever!

    (btw, do you know that your moon boots are still in the beaner’s closet? i forgot to give them to your mom when I saw her quite a few month ago)

  3. Shirley Revercomb

    Looks like I’ll have to make a road trip for the Kmai coffee. There’s nothing better than an iced coffee on a hot day. I guess our 8 degrees doesn’t qualify for a hot day [imagine the coolness]. And since YOU ARE BUYING, I will take mine with the sweetened condensed milk and a nohm to go with it. You’ll just have to put my order on hold for a few months.

    Great Grandma and Uncle Jess and I got your card / letter – thank you! We absolutely love hearing from you and you can’t imagine how we enjoy your blog. Miss you, love you and will look forward to seeing you.

    Aunt Shirley

  4. Whitney A

    Coffee bags = milk bags?

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