Pour over coffee, green tea chocolate cake and people inside Brown Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Coffee Drifting: Back on the Addiction in Cambodia

For better or worse, likely the latter, I’m addicted to coffee again. In Cambodia, I’ve been drinking precisely one smooth cup in a café every morning for the last two weeks.

For many of us humans, caffeine is an elixir, while to some insects, it’s a lethal toxin.

A few months back in Vietnam, I found myself extra addicted to the omnipresent black liquid, and went cold turkey. This lasted six weeks.

Situational Coffee Drinking

After that I had intermittent cups about seven to 10 days apart. The loose idea was to drink situationally, once a week, or once a month, at a time when it would have the greatest benefit.

If you love coffee, drinking a cup on occassion can bring an extra sense of pleasure compared to when you drink it every day.
Almost full cup of coffee in a cat whiskers mug, while an orange-colored cat cleans itself in a chair, inside Le Cattitude Café, Vientiane, Laos.
Coffee and a cat, Le Cattitude Café, Vientiane, Laos.

During the span of drinking a cup every week or so, I spontaneously decided to have a cup while on my way to the bus station in Vientiane, Laos. This was situational coffee drinking at its finest.

The reason I left Vientiane after a few days and returned to Thailand is because it was high season and far too touristy for my liking. Due to middle-of-the-night, high decibel levels caused by hyper tourism, I hadn’t gotten a solid night’s sleep in three nights. This was the biggest drawback to staying in downtown Vientiane during high season, and why the situational cup proved to be a godsend.

The cup functioned wonderfully as I became wide awake while dealing with both sides of the border crossing.

Back on the Addiction in Khon Kaen

A few days later I found myself back in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

The first morning I had no intention of drinking coffee as I’d had that situational cup four days prior while walking to the bus station in Vientiane.

Khon Kaen is one of my favorite non-touristy places. I’d spent time there before, back when I was completely addicted to caffeine. So I subconsciously knew where the good establishments were.

The daily habit that I’d kicked back in Da Nang was about to take over my vulnerable human mindset again. 

I was habitually walking towards Vector Coffee, one of my favorite little establishments in the region. It’s a cozy place where I’d sipped several superior, slow-drip, hot coffee elixirs.

On top of the thought of a delicious drip beverage at Vector, my Internet enslavement demon was calling. Coffee and Wi-Fi go well together.

Two big containers of coffee beans and the back of a barista with a black and white shirt that says: Vector Coffee Roasters.
Beans and barista inside Vector Coffee Roaster, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Many months back, I consumed coffee there almost every morning for several weeks.  They play pleasant coffee shop music, jazz, and blues, mostly with no lyrics.  There are good makeshift work stations.  The environment is comfortable.

What Vector also has is eminent, slow-drip, pour-over coffee.  They grind the beans and slowly hand-craft a top-notch cup of hand-filtered Joe. The baristas are the real deal.

In Khon Kaen, I had at least two legitimate cafés in close walking distance.  Staying in places where I can walk exclusively is a goal, which when achieved, is a lifestyle win.   

If a café offers V60, chemex slow pour, or kalita drip coffee, they're legit in my eyes. Hot cacao and tea from fresh tea leaves is a boon, too. 

I decided to use most of my 29 stamped Thai days in this provincial city where I’d consume a hand-crafted coffee on many mornings at either Vector, or 2Kaffee.

2Kaffee was right beside the hotel. It’s another classy joint with professional baristas, drip coffee and excellent hot cacao. 

Drip coffee, framed coffee art on the wall and three shelves of coffee grinders imported from Germany inside 2Kaffee, Khon Kaen, Thailand.
Drip coffee and an extensive collection of grinders on three shelves, inside 2Kaffee, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Thanks to the owner’s passion for coffee grinders, he has an extensive collection, all of which he brought to Thailand from Germany.

2Kaffee is a genuine establishment.  While the music isn’t as focus-friendly as at Vector, it beats the modern manufactured pop music with English lyrics, that most establishments in the region think they have to play.  

At 2Kaffee they always play 70s music. It must be what the owner listens to. It’s pleasant enough, while the 70s was a decade when most music was still original. Also, the owner is a humble guy who walks up to customers and asks them how they’re doing.

Benefits and Drawbacks

In Khon Kaen, after consuming a cup for about seven straight mornings, I felt a heart palpitation again. I also felt a tiny amount of anxiety every afternoon and evening.

I acknowledged that I didn’t feel this mild agitation when not consuming coffee daily.

Sign: Benefits of Coffee: burn fat, reduce hearth disease, reduce diabetes, reduce cancer, have energy.  Inside Moonrise Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Alleged benefits of coffee, on the wall inside Moonrise Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

While I’m not qualified to agree or disagree with the above claims on the wall at Moonrise Coffee, I imagine they’re partly true and partly not.

Feel free to dive deeper with this 16 minute audio summary of the book Caffeine Blues.

Off coffee, my sleep was deeper and more sound. Even if I’d only slept six hours, I felt refreshed because the sleep was deep.

When drinking coffee on a regular basis, I wake up more in the middle of the night.

While I typically go back to sleep and get enough rest, intermittent sleep isn’t as good as a solid six to eight hours without interruption. Coffee consumption doesn’t help sleep quality.

After a week in Khon Kaen, I switched to hot cacao. While it was tempting to order slow-drip coffee, I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. Cacao and green tea are smoother and usually contain a fraction of the caffeine that coffee does.

Two full hot drinks on a wooden table.  A cup of coffee and green tea, inside Fame Café, Siem Reap Cambodia.
Black coffee is served with complimentary green tea at Fame Café, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Interestingly, when ordering this $1.25, fresh Americano, the green tea comes gratis. And upon tasting each, I found the green tea more soothing going down.

I got off the coffee again in Khon Kaen. Or, at least I wasn’t drinking it every day. I alternated between coffee, hot cacao and tea.

Back on the Addiction in Siem Reap

Then I crossed the border into Cambodia where I find myself in Siem Reap, where there are plenty of cafés and tea shops with Wi-Fi and lots of outlets.

There’s Brown Coffee, with its wonderfully huge and efficient environment. After noticing that they offer slow-pour, drip coffee for $2.65. That was all I needed to see.

Pour over, hand drip and cold drip coffee optons and prices listed inside Brown Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Superior coffee options at Brown Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

There’s another cute little place across the street from my accommodation where a good Americano can be had for a mere $1.

There’s also Fame Coffee where you can get a qualitative, fresh Americano for $1.25. They grind the beans on the spot.

Menus, small tip box, counter and an employee inside Fame Café, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Inside Fame Café, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Like any tourist city, Siem Reap isn’t lacking in cafés and restaurants.

As economics and psychology blend, these two factors have played a roll in my latest cup a day addiction in Cambodia.

One great thing about going cold turkey a few months back, so far I have not exceeded one cup in a 24-hour period.

With only one cup and not two or three, the extra anxiety caused by coffee is minimal, and there are barely any heart palpitations. Although I did feel one again two days ago. There must be a correlation between coffee consumption and heart palpitations, at least for me. Empirically speaking, I’m certain of it.

Going forward with this lifestyle, it will be challenging to give up coffee completely. However, I don’t envision sipping this inky-colored beverage every day.

Portrait with a glass container of black coffee in hand, sitting on a wooden bench behind a little round table, inside Brown Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Portrati holding a pour over coffee inside Brown Coffee, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

But now, after two weeks in Siem Reap, I’ve had a cup of coffee every morning. While this is still ongoing, I expect to go back into cold turkey mode again very soon.

Nevertheless, while nowhere near as extreme as it got back in Vietnam, I have drifted back into a one-cup a day coffee addiction in Cambodia.

Have you experienced drifting in and out of coffee addiction? Leave a message below or share your thoughts on Facebook, or Twitter (X).

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5 thoughts on “Coffee Drifting: Back on the Addiction in Cambodia

  1. I am a consistent coffee drinker. Each morning at 2 a.m., I have one cup of obsidian black. After my wife imbibes at about 6:30, I have another. I have no intention of changing my habit. What I find of interest about habits is determining whether they are addictions and, what specifically is an addiction?

    1. WOW GEORGE! 2 a.m. Then another cup five hours later. Interesting. That’s two cups a day. I imagine you’re working on your art before the sun comes up. That’s a nice approach.

  2. I read somewhere that coffee is the most popular drink in the world, even more so than soda or beer. Is there a country where coffee is NOT popular?

    1. AL: I believe you are correct. I read that coffee is the second biggest commodity after oil and is drunk by 90% of earth’s inhabitants. CRAZY! Europeans and North Americans seem to consume the most. I think that in our increasingly global world, there isn’t a country that’s immune to coffee addiction, although apparently Nepal and Pakistan drink the least amount of coffee, as they are big tea drinking lands.

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