Cambodian Coffee Month

When I first arrived in Cambodia in 2004,  one of the first things that I tried was kahfe tako tukdaohko, or iced coffee with milk. My Cambodian friend and I had it at a roadside stall (immediately raising my hygiene red flag, which I ignored because, hey! I was feeling adventurous, and thirsty too) and for half a dollar (20+ pesos) I got a tall glass of brewed strong coffee mixed with crushed ice. A long teaspoon and a straw stood in the glass. The teaspoon was for mixing in the inch-thick layer of condensed milk that lay at the bottom of the glass. My first sip? Heavenly. Through all my years in Cambodia, this has been my go-to drink whenever I am parched, or just wanting to be refreshed. What I love about it is that no matter where I have it, be it at a market stall or a posh restaurant, the taste is consistently good. I’ve tried iced coffee with milk from Thailand and Vietnam but they don’t compare with the Cambodian type.

When I settled back in Manila, I tried so hard to replicate this drink using local coffee but it’s not the same.

So when I returned to Phnom Penh a few months back, this drink was at the top of my list of things to experience again. And it didn’t fail me. Once again, it didn’t matter where I had it–in the city or in the provinces where I did my field work, at a roadside stall, a coffee shop or a hotel even, it was as great as I remembered it to me. Few things have changed–the price for one thing but all is good because it was really lovely.

The many iterations of Cambodian Iced Coffee with Milk

The many iterations of Cambodian Iced Coffee with Milk

Upon my return to Manila, I brought a few kilos of Cambodian coffee with me but I haven’t attempted to replicate it here.

For now, memories of it are enough to keep me happy.

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