Espresso pours into Myanmar
FOR all the talk about Myanmar’s emergence onto the global scene, there’s been at least one aspect of the Golden Land slow to change: Good espresso is still hard to come by.
Espresso Milano hopes to fill the void. A subsidiary of the Singapore-based EdyCom Solutions, the company launched sales of its espresso machines and capsules on July 4. Company CFO Eyal Mutznik told The Myanmar Times that he thinks Myanmar is ripe for learning more about the concentrated coffee shots.
“It’s not penetrating the market,” he said. “It’s educating the market.”
Aung Mingalar, the popular Shan noodle shop on Nawaday Street, has already purchased a machine and a back-order of hundreds of capsules. Foreigners seeking more than the watery, instant coffee mix available on the street can now order up a cup of joe, as strong as their choosing, for K2000.
The coffee itself comes from Israeli company Cup of Joe, which sources Arabica and Robusta beans from Tanzania and from farmers in Central and South America. Cup of Joe began 20 years ago in a Tel Aviv cafe, growing to more than 250 coffee shops and developing its own line of products. For the Myanmar launch, Cup of Joe rebranded itself as Espresso Milano.
A team of around 20 Myanmar and expat workers in Yangon receive the shipments of capsules and packaging material from the Israel headquarters, compiling the packages and delivering them for free to customers who order online.
Mutznik said they are stepping into a “black market”, where expats craving their caffeine fix have been bringing in espresso machines from other countries. To get capsules, these espresso lovers have long relied on friends and visa runs.
Now, the days of stuffing carry-on luggage with handfuls of cartridges look to be over.
“Here we don’t have any competition because espresso is not in Myanmar yet,” he said.
Fans of Bar Boon or Craft Cafe might disagree. The downtown district has exploded with cafes over the past year, with the Yaw Min Gyi ward as its coffee central. Espresso is increasingly available – but at costs of at least K3000 at most shops. Espresso Milano sells its capsules for K1000 apiece, with deals for bulk orders. The machines themselves run an average of K300,000, but for serious espresso lovers, the chance to brew your own cups is a rare one.
As a long-time coffee drinker, I can vouch for the product. Popping the cartridge of a Saturino blend – the company’s most popular flavour – into the machine is satisfying and mechanical, as easy as pressing a lever. The resulting aroma is enough to recall memories of Italian cafes, but the taste is what will keep people coming back. Try the Valentino or Fiorenza blends for softer, less bitter cups, while the Lorenzo is most comparable to professionally brewed espresso.
Mutznik describes the espresso culture found in Europe in the same language you might use to describe teashop culture in Myanmar: At the start of every meeting, people drink a cup. It’s a communal activity, and he thinks the similarities between the two worlds will make it easy for people to jump on board the espresso express.
“You have it once, you might not be so sure,” he said. “You have it a second time, you think, ‘Okay, not so bad.’ By the third cup, you’re hooked.”
For now, the espresso is available at Aung Mingalar and 7th Joint Bar, with plans for availability in the FMI lounge coming soon. Those interested in getting their own machine for home or office can contact Espresso Milano on their Facebook page.
A jolt of joe, coming right up.