Sakana competes for Cambodia on the world stage

Introducing Sakana, representing Cambodia

Kinyei cafe superstar Sakana Long recently competed against the region’s best baristas at the FHA 2014 Barista Challenge in Singapore’s Expo Center between April 8 -11. Asia Pacific’s top baristas were invited to the event with 13 countries represented, including Cambodia, which sent along Sakana. It was Kinyei’s first international competition, and followed the cafe’s second national win in Phnom Penh at the CRA Cambodia Barista Championships.

The 2012 Cambodia Barista Championships winner and Sakana’s coach, Untac Nem, accompanied Sakana over on her first ever international flight, and Kinyei’s co-founder Melina Chan met them in Singapore to help with logistics and cheerleading.

Melina, Sakana and Untac – Go team

This event was truly at another level – most competitors owned their own roasteries and cafes. The competition itself is a 15 minute performance where 12 coffees need to be made and presented to the judges – 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 of the competitor’s signature drink, based on the World Barista Championships format.

With her signature drink, Sakana wanted to showcase the local blend she had selected – from Chaing Mai, Luang Prabang and Mondulkiri – and paired it with pineapple syrup and honey both sourced from Cambodia (she brought them in her luggage across from Cambodia to Singapore!).

Preparing backstage

Preparing backstage

When it was finally Sakana’s turn to take the stage she was pretty nervous and this had immediate repercussions – by the end of her preparation time she hadn’t quite got the grind right, and had to continue adjusting once her competition time started.

With an unfamiliar grinder and mounting pressure, she was still working at it 5 minutes into her 15 minute performance. Minutes went by and she was still under- and over-shooting the adjustment. It must have been devastating, but she did not give up despite the ticking clock and, no doubt, burnt fingers from all the espresso cup cleaning!

Finally at 10 minutes Sakana hit a good pour and, instantly hitting form, used her remaining time to complete her performance, serving and presenting her signature drink in the nick of time. It was an amazing recovery from what must have felt like an impossible situation.

Sakana shares the stage with four sensory judges, two technical judges, a head judge and a shadow judge as well as two timekeepers.

The team was short some of the necessary equipment (each barista is responsible for bringing their own cups, saucers, jugs, everything) on arrival, so the first 12 hours were spent racing around Singapore. Neither Sakana nor Untac had ever really used public transport before and navigating the MRT proved to be a fun challenge for both of them. In the end we found everything we needed thanks to our very generous new friends at Bettr Barista.

Sakana, despite problems with the grinder and stage fright, along with tackling a presentation in English rather than her native Khmer, managed to finish within the allowable time limit.  Head Judge Jake Hu loved the strong cocoa flavours in Sakana’s blend, adding that he really liked the “good, rich aroma and flavour”. He said the blend has a lot of potential, and he also loved the pineapple in Sakana’s signature drink, describing it as a “tropical sensation.”

Jake Hu Head Judge FHA

Head Judge Jake Hu debriefs with Sakana and Untac

New Zealand took out the title, while Japan came 2nd and Singapore 3rd.

Japan's Tomoko Yamamoto (2nd place), Sakana and New Zealand's Hanna Teramoto (1st place)

Japan’s Tomoko Yamamoto (2nd place), Sakana and New Zealand’s Hanna Teramoto (1st place)

At the end of the day, Sakana was obviously disappointed; she wanted to be able to put her best out there and see how it stacked up in the international arena. But it took an amazing strength of character to work through a problem like that in an utterly overwhelming setting. Everyone was incredibly proud of her, and the whole team who worked to get her there. Sak was very proud of her own accomplishments too. And with any luck, it won’t be the last time we see Kinyei at an international barista competition.

Thanks to everyone out there for all of your support, of course without which none of this would have been possible. Special thanks to the Jasper Coffee team for their generosity, support and guidance. The opportunities the team can create and access themselves now are definitely beyond anything they could have once imagined and we feel very lucky to have been able to share this journey.




New horizons in Singapore (and Sak’s first swim in an infinity pool!)

Sakana wins Gold at 2013 Cambodian Barista Championships

We’re ecstatic to share the news that Sakana Long has just been named the 2013 Cambodian Barista Champion this past weekend at the Sofitel Phnom Penh! Congratulations, Sak!

Sakana with her GoldSakana was the youngest and only provincial entrant in the competition dominated by participants from Phnom Penh, and was up against competitors from international coffee chains such as Gloria Jeans (3rd place) and Costa Coffee (2nd place). Sakana carries on the Barista Champion title for Kinyei in 2013 after Untac’s win in 2012. We are so proud of Sak and the entire team for all of their hard work in preparing for the competition, and in their dedication to great coffee making!

“Yesterday when I get champion, I’m crying I’m so happy”, Sakana’s responded about her win on Monday.Sak as her name is called

Living with her four siblings and grandmother in Slaket Village just on the outskirts of Battambang city, she joined Kinyei Cafe in December 2010 to earn a wage to support her brother completing high school whilst gaining some skills of her own.  When asked what she’d like to do next, she said she wants to learn how to taste coffee, fix the machine, continue to improve her barista skills and understand everything about how the coffee machine works. She also wants to learn about the picking, fermenting, roasting, and cupping processes.

And another bit of fantastic news – Untac, Kinyei’s enigmatic barista, Soksabike tourguide and first place winner of last year’s national competition went on to compete last month and place in the regional barista championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Untac was invited to be a technical judge on the panel for the 2013 Cambodia competition.

We wanted to hear a bit more from Sakana about her experience over the past weekend:

Sakana under pressure

How did you feel while competing?

“In the first round I was so scared; I shaking a little bit, very excited and nervous at the same time. In the second round I was not so scared and was more confident but a bit nervous.”

How did you feel when you won, when they announced your name?

“I feel like I’m so amazed, I never think about it; the first time I think I cannot do it, but after that, I can do it, you know what I mean?”

And what did Untac have to say? “There were 11 competitors from all over Cambodia this year and they’re all getting one step forward, so everyone’s getting much better than last year.”

“The first round, I’m really nervous for Sak. At first her hands were shaking but she managed to make 12 drinks in 15 minutes – with just 2 seconds to spare, so rushed, but managed to squeeze in before time.”Optimized-sak during 2013

“And the second time, her performance was just so smooth. If you look at the performance, I just can’t believe how she does that. Every movement is confident and she knows what to do and she’s cleaning as she goes. And she says she’s not nervous at all” Untac reported.

Sakana has already received some glowing feedback from the head judge about her capacity to learn and improve between the debriefing of the first round and her performance in the finals. “She took on board all the advice given to her to better her performance and raised the bar for Cambodia as a whole” says Ross Bright, World Barista Championship judge 2007-2008, current Speciality Coffee Association of Europe National Coordinator and Master Roaster for Spinelli Coffee Singapore . - Check out our storify – a moment-by-moment account of the event told through tweets and images as it was unfolding!

CRA Barista Champions - Kinyei Team


We’re over the moon for Sakana and the team. Stay tuned for updates including the next steps for Sakana and Untac, representing the finest in coffee in all of Cambodia!

Open Workshop about Cross cultural

After a lot of great Open Workshops over the last few months at Kinyei, Now we are happy to host another Open Workshop about Cross cultural communication

This FREE workshop is both for Khmer people and foreigners to bring together to discuss cross cultural communication strategies for working in Battambang to promote development. Using participatory approaches the workshop will enable people to explore ideas and myths about culture and generate some unique ideas relevant to the communities and people we work with. John is a facilitator and trainer with 14 years experience specializing in cross cultural development NGO work in SE Asia and the Pacific- for more info on his company see 
This workshop will happen on Wednesday 6 February 1pm – 4pm

Philosophy Club

Philosophy Club

After a lot of great Open Workshops over the last few months at Kinyei, we’re continuing to host the Open Workshop about Philosophy class; it starts every Thursday from 6pm- 7pm at Kinyei.

What is it about ?
This workshop is both for Khmer people and foreigners. It aims to bring people together to discuss and share the philosophy of life and community eg. This workshop will not just about discussing but also to encourage our minds to understand more about life and other philosophies.

About the Presenter
Diana Thompson from Australia has been running a lot of workshops about philosophy for many people with different ages. She has many experiences discussing philosophy, and she wants to share with people to understand more because philosophy is very important for everyday life .

Who’s it for?
The Workshop will be in English and it  will be the best for people who are interested to know more about philosophy of life and who want to improve their thinking, and share and discuss about their own topics of philosophy. So, please invite people who are interested in this, to get more ideas and learn more about philosophy from each other.

Where to join ?
Workshop place is at kinyei Cafe on the street number 1.5  near central market, Battambang town.

When ?
Every  Thursday from 6 pm to 7pm .

If you have a particular skill, idea or experience you would like to share with the broader community, we’d love to talk to you about an open workshop, please contact us by email at

As always, participation in Kinyei Open Workshops is free of charge. Look forward to seeing you there!

Soksabike is hiring!

Hi There! Soksabike is hiring Managers, hear all about it…

Soksabike bicycle tours is a social enterprise offering people all around the world an insight into the traditional livelihoods of the Cambodian countryside. We are passionate about responsible tourism and focus on educating guests in the realities of life in rural Cambodia and ensuring that visitors have a positive impact on the local communities – economically, socially and environmentally.

Our Goal

To educate tourists about daily Cambodian life, to facilitate real cross-cultural connections, and to provide our guests with guidance and information on how they can have a positive impact on the locations they travel to. In addition to these goals, we aim to provide our tourists with an awesome and unforgettable experience.

Position :  Business Manager and Operations Manager or Assistant Manager (1-2 positions)


Soksabike is an established social enterprise with 3 years of operation in Battambang. A successful applicant will be based in Battambang and work with a high degree of autonomy to further Soksabike’s social impact and success.

Soksabike is a small but active business and requires managers to be flexible, initiative-taking and dedicated to the project’s vision. Management experience is desirable but more important is commitment to self-improvement and the success of the project.

Business Management Responsibilities:

Soksabike business manager is primarily responsible for sales and marketing, business strategy and development of new tour products, with oversight from an active board.

Ideally the business manager will have experience or a strong interest in tourism and entrepreneurship, and some familiarity with accounting / financial management and external communications.

Operations Management Responsibilities:

Soksabike operations manager is responsible for management of all operational aspects of the Soksabike including management of office operations, guides, sales and bookings, and ensuring the ongoing high quality of all tours that Soksabike runs.

The operations manager will have experience or a strong interest in responsible tourism, hospitality, administration and communications.

General Requirements

  • Interest in cycling
  • Has Graduated with a bachelor degree at University (Any major relating to this job opportunity is a bonus)
  • Can start working at 20-30 hours per week, between 6:30 am – 5:00 pm as needed
  • Is passionate about sharing rural Cambodian culture
  • Respects all members of the local community
  • Excellent interpersonal skills within both Khmer and Western cultures
  • Can solve problems quickly and creatively as they appear
  • Has strong spoken and written English
  • Has good communication skills including online communications
  • Has strong computer skills (Excel, Google Docs, Gmail)
  • Flexibility and ability to work in a team towards a common goal
  • Experience working with foreigners a plus

If you possess the above characteristics, we want you to apply!

  • Attach a CV and Cover letter plus any related documents and deliver either:
    • Directly to our office on Street 1.5 (Affiliated with Kinyei Cafe) at the south of Psar Nat (Behind ANZ bank)
      - or -
    • By email to
  • Deadline for Application is January 28, 2013
  • Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

For additional enquiries, please contact our current Soksabike Manager : 

Phalla Yai : 077 833 170   Email:


Ready…Set…100k cycle!

Fearless Soksabike Guide, Untac, will be taking on the Angkor Wat Bike Race coming up in two days on December 1st. He’ll join thousands of cyclists from Cambodia and the world for the 100km jaunt around the temple complexes, raising money for vulnerable, at-risk Cambodian youth.

How’s he feeling going into the race?

You know, I feel prepared. To prep I would train with Phearon, a ride to Sampeu Mountain 2-3 times up and down. People who see me ask questions, why are you doing that hard work? Because normally they don’t do it, they don’t understand why someone would.

Untac on Bike

Untac during prep for the 100km race in Siem Reap

Untac has also been training with BTB Bike and Rithy who showed tips about riding bike long distance and train properly. Untac will be on a mountain bike, since he prefers it.

He’s heading up to Siem Reap by bike with fellow Soskabike Guides Phearon and Reaksmey today. He knows that the first half  is ok, but last 50 km is hard, where he loses power. So what moves him to go on?

Just think about the team here, pride for Soksabike and think about going through hard thing, legs or ass sore but mind control body instead of body control mind. I’m going to drink lots of coconuts and eat lots of bananas. Maybe try to eat spaghetti for power.

Stay tuned for more updates from the race. For now,

Goodluck, Untac!

Cambodian Barista Champion 2012

As some of you might have picked up on by now, two of Kinyei’s original baristas Untec Nem and Sean Oun just got back from  Phnom Penh where they went with a small cheering contingent from the cafe to battle Cambodia’s Finest (baristas) in the annual Cambodian Restaurant Association barista competition. There were 15 contestants, all from the capital, many representing big names like Brown, Gloria Jeans, and Sofitel.

And Untac won.

Now I’m not saying we didn’t entirely expect this – Sean and Untac are passionate learners, they’ve had the very best of help from visiting barista volunteers and our long-time supporters over at Jasper Coffee, and both the guys did Battambang proud on the day, whipping up quality joe with aplomb, panache and poise – but given our relative isolation as a coffee house in Battambang and the strength of the competition, it was definitely “wildest dreams” material to hear one of our guys called to the stage to accept the gold.

Their “signature drinks”, developed for the competition by the guys themselves in collaboration with Battambang’s small but loyal coffee drinking community are being chalked up on the board: Sean’s viennese style coffee with chocolate and whipped cream (incidentally one of the few coffees in the comp a judge didn’t just taste but polished off completely), and Untac’s “street latte” – a cafe latte infused with traditional Cambodian “duk ompeu” or sugar cane juice pressed with Pursat oranges.

Apparently the next competition is in Singapore where national champions from all around the region will compete to qualify for the World Barista Championship. That’s hugely exciting but for the moment, the team is enjoying the afterglow of the new sights, ideas and friends they found in Phnom Penh – a city many have only visited once or twice in their life.

So a huge thank you to all our supporters for your pledges, your well wishes and to those of you who have visited, your invaluable time and assistance – believe me it’s paying off.

This week! 3 Open Workshops at Kinyei

We are excited to host three technology related Open Workshops this week at Kinyei. Murray Bourne will be joining us from Singapore to deliver workshops on website development, image editing, and PHP programming. The schedule of workshops will be:

Tuesday 2nd Oct 
10:00 to 12:00 pm
Workshop (open workshop for anyone managing a website):
Topic: What visitors really do on your Website and what to do about it


Wednesday 3rd Oct 5:00 to 7:00 pm
Workshop (open workshop for anyone who shares digital images)
Topic: Image editing


Friday 5th Oct
5:00 to 7:00pm
Workshop (open workshop for anyone interested in Web development)
Topic: Introduction to PHP programming

About the Presenter

Murray Bourne is an educator, trainer, and Web developer. He has a keen interest in applying analytics to improve a wide range of human activities, including Web usability. Murray is an Australian who has lived in Asia for a large portion of his adult life. He is currently a freelance trainer based in Singapore.  facilitator with many years of experience in Japan, Singapore and Australia. Most recently he has facilitated workshops at InSTEDD in Phnom Penh.

Who are they for?

Workshops will be in English and Khmer (it there is interest, translation will be provided). The workshops will work best with a mix of participants so please invite both your expat and Khmer colleagues.

How to register?

Email the following to

Your name:

Number of people participating:

Which workshop(s) you are interested in attending:

Organisation (if applicable):

What do you want to achieve in this workshop:

Workshop places are limited so please register to ensure a place. As always, participation in Kinyei Open Workshops is free of charge. Look forward to seeing you there!