Espresso pours into Myan­mar

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - RJ VOGT rj.vogt@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: RJ Vogt

A jolt of joe, com­ing right up.

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