Paul’s BrewHouse a Contender for Coffee Crown

Paul’s BrewHouse is hot on the heels of Brown Coffee for the title of Cambodia’s biggest coffee shop chain as it opens its sixth store in Phnom Penh on Friday, with the company looking to open another branch later this year in the capital’s rapidly expanding cafe market.

The new outlet on Sothearos is decorated with a mini replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and modern art sculptures, inspired by CEO Mengly J. Quach’s love for European coffee shop designs.

Although the decor is European, the flavor is distinctly American, he said. Donuts in particular distinguish Paul’s BrewHouse from competitors such as Brown and Costa.

“We do a good job with donuts and we have the original U.S. taste. Everything is from the U.S.—the baker, the flour, everything,” Mr. Quach said.

The sixth store reflects the company’s lightning growth since it opened its first store in Boeng Keng Kang 1 commune 18 months ago, and there are plans to open a seventh this year if it finds the right location, which could be Tuol Kok, Teuk Tla or Chak Angre, Mr. Quach said.

Phnom Penh’s coffee scene has been driven by Westerners and a burgeoning middle class who crave more sophisticated coffee rather than the traditional Cambodian coffee, said Bunleang Chang, co-founder of Brown Coffee, the country’s biggest chain with seven outlets. “In 2010, [Boeng Keng Kang] had only about five coffee shops; now there are more than 20,” he said.

The arrival of competitors and the rise of Paul’s BrewHouse is nothing to worry about; in fact, it’s a good thing, Mr. Bunleang added.

“I think it’s good for Cambodia to have coffee houses. It’s important for the city because it gives people more places to go and hang out. Also, it’s good for investors who come to Phnom Penh and see a modern city. It shows the city is developing and makes them optimistic that they will have a future in Cambodia.”

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