Kinyei + Soksabike Tours Celebrated as one of World’s Top Sustainable Tourism Operations

Finalists and winners of 2-16 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

Founders Katie and Mel are just wrapping up their time in Texas – it’s worth mentioning this is our first time seeing one another face to face in nearly 3 years! – after an exciting week attending the World Travel and Tourism (WTTC) Global Summit, representing Kinyei (Kinyei Cafe and Soksabike) as a finalist for Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The WTTC Summit, held in Dallas this year, covered two full days of speakers, panels, presentations, and networking with an all star group of influential players in global tourism including major hoteliers, airlines, tour service providers as well as government leaders, economists and academics.

While the WTTC Summit mostly represented the interests of these major tourism players, the Tourism for Tomorrow finalists represented lean, fresh and innovative approaches to tourism and sustainability. Kinyei was acknowledged in the top three sustainable tourism organizations for doing outstanding work with people and communities amongst a group of 15 finalists representing 14 countries in the 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards supported by AIG.

Though Kinyei didn’t walk away with the award, we were thrilled to be among such impressive company – Jus’ Sail, a St. Lucia based vocational training operator, and Youth Career Initiative (YCI), a UK based hotel and hospitality training partnership both do excellent work towards improving youth employment outcomes around the globe. Have a read about YCI, the winners in the category here.

It was a jam packed few days that we could go on for hours about but instead we’ve tried to distill a few key insights we walked away with for you here.

  1. Leadership and innovation coming from the little guys – it seems the movers and shakers of new ideas were all the small operators, largely those of us involved in the Tourism for Tomorrow awards. It strikes us how important it is for us to have strong linkages between the big guys and the emerging players for the industry and for the future of the planet. We shared a bus ride with the CEO of Lonely Planet, dined at a table with the former CEO of Disney, and current CEO of a major international cruise liner, but the story we told about the Kinyei and Soskabike teams was always the biggest crowd pleaser.
  2. Something that shone brightly in the Tourism for Tomorrow symposium for us was the collective appreciation and respect for the concepts of tourism that support pride of place, dignity in work, empathy and peace (check out the work of Steve Killelea)
  3. We met our tribe at the Tourism for Tomorrow awards (we spoke the same language and felt part of a broader community) – they are exciting and operating in amazing locations and we want to visit them all! We already know that two of the sailing initiatives will be doing a staff exchange, and we’ve got our own collaborations cooking…so stay tuned!

So, what’s next?

Well, we’ve got an awesomely expanded community, access to cool new tools for impact measurement, and will continue to ramp up our involvement in more ASEAN region sustainable tourism groups and events.
If you’re in the sustainable tourism, social enterprise or a related field we would absolutely love for you to get in touch and share with us what you’re working on. That’s what this collective impact thing’s all about!
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Kinyei shortlisted as Finalist for 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards


All-Kinyei-Logos for blogFinalists in The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have been announced, recognizing Kinyei International (KI) as one of three finalists in the People Category for their dedication to sustainable social change.

KI represents Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe; sibling businesses in Battambang, that are youth-focused social enterprises armed with the mission of providing meaningful training in small business management, hospitality, and sustainable tourism practices.

“The recognition from the WTTC takes on special meaning this year for us, given the inclusion of sustainable tourism practices within the new Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the UN recently declaring 2017 the Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development” – Melina Chan, Co-Founder, Kinyei International

Attracting 157 applications across a number of categories, the People Category recognizes organizations that work exceptionally to enhance the capacity of people, and to support them to enter the Travel & Tourism sector as well as offering fair employment practices. 

KI’s placement as a finalist in the WTTC Awards comes on the heels of another Responsible Travel accolade; KI was named the winner of Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award in the Responsible Tourism Initiatives category in September 2015.

“We are humbled to be recognized on a global stage for our sound tourism practices, particularly by the WTTC as they are such a prominent leader in raising awareness of sustainable travel practices” – Katie Hallaran, Co-Founder, Kinyei International

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For more information, please contact:

Katie Hallaran   |   +1 203 558 5264   |   |


Our Kinyei family is growing!

Read all about it!!

Our family is growing! @Feel Good Cafe and Coffee Roasters and @Kinyei are new partners and co-owners of @Kinyei Cafe in Battambang. Same wonderful Kinyei Cafe staff and excellent coffee, with some new food on the menu and a new look! Come and sample our new goodies and see our fresh new look for our reopening this month (November).

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It is with great anticipation that we share the news that Kinyei Cafe has formalized our partnership with our roaster, Feel Good Group. As of October 1st of this year, Feel Good became the newest majority owner of the cafe, and the operating partner on st. 1 ½ . Feel Good’s expertise in hospitality and bean roasting combined with the Kinyei team’s reputation for excellence in espresso making and dedication to employee development positions both Kinyei and Feel Good for continued success and market leadership.

This transition also signifies something else to get excited about; the beginning of local ownership, a milestone that we’ve been working towards since we launched Kinyei Cafe! We’re thrilled that Yong (Chhouert Leng), our tireless manager, will join the ranks of the owners. We wanted to update you on these new developments now because this month marks the soft opening of the new space, with some amazing aesthetic improvements and menu additions. But let’s back up, we want to give you the full story, and answer some of the FAQs you might have.


On the evolution of our relationship with Feel Good:

Kinyei met Feel Good a few years back at the 2013 Cambodian National Barista Competition in Phnom Penh via Sakana Long and Untac Nem, our award winning baristas who forged the relationships. The Feel Good connection blossomed as Kinyei began to buy Feel Good roasted beans, and seek advice from Marc and Jose on small scale renovations and management strategies. Through these collaborations, the Feel Good and Kinyei teams became acquainted, and linked.

On the potential for shared value:

This year, the desire on both ends to formalize a relationship propelled Kinyei and Feel Good to start discussions over what a partnership might look like. Both teams prioritized sustainability, growth and local ownership in order to maximize the shared value. After growing their two cafes and roasting facility in Phnom Penh, Jose and Marc felt strongly about Battambang as their next move. Mel and Katie led consultations with Yong and the team, and collectively knew a Feel Good merge could mean big things for Kinyei Cafe.

On the logistics of the deal:

We began discussions in May and through an impressive skype effort (where we relied on Cameron Neil, Hian Chan and Ben Hopper), with Katie in Cambodia in June and July, we reached an agreement in August. Mel came through to Battambang to arrange the transition in August, and here we are in November with the new Cafe ready to launch!


_Will the name of the Cafe change? _No, Kinyei Cafe will remain Kinyei Cafe! Feel Good understands the power of Kinyei’s brand in Battambang and throughout Cambodia and will operate the cafe under that name. After all,our name is a core part of the identity that the team has cultivated over the years!

_What does this mean for Kinyei’s talented staff? _You will still see the same faces at Kinyei Cafe. Our current staff will stay on and benefit from enhanced on the job training, and more opportunities for growth and leadership

_How will it affect Soksabike? And what does it mean for Kinyei generally? _Kinyei International will retain a stake in Kinyei Cafe, and as full owners of Soksabike, Kinyei International will ensure that the relationship between the sibling businesses remains symbiotic and dynamic!

Finally, we want to thank you for being a part of the Kinyei family, and for your involvement over the years which ultimately ensured this huge victory for Kinyei, and for believing in the small, social enterprise models that make small but significant impacts in local communities. We couldn’t have done this without the support, mentorship, and generosity of the Kinyei network. We hope if you’re around you will come by to celebrate! And do stay tuned for more exciting news on the new Kinyei Cafe!

kinyei team pailin coffee trip

Cafe team during a trip to Pailin coffee farm

Kinyei recognized as regional leader in sustainable tourism; an update on our Wild Asia Award

As Kinyei turns five years old, what better way to celebrate how far we’ve come on our journey to create meaningful community tourism projects in Battambang than to be recognized as a leader in the sustainability and the responsible tourism industry. We are over the moon to share with our friends, long-time supporters, customers and community that Kinyei has been named the winner of the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative category by Wild Asia.

Guide Phalla leading through a rice field

Guide Phalla leading through a rice field

Kinyei is an initiative aimed at creating sustainable social change through youth focused social enterprises. Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe, Kinyei’s key enterprises, are sibling businesses in Battambang, Cambodia with the aim of providing meaningful training in hospitality and responsible tourism practices. We’re excited to receive the award for both of these tremendous efforts, but we also wanted to give a shout out to the other finalists in our category EXO Foundation Cambodia and CBT Vietnam, two commendable responsible tourism initiatives worth visit if you have the chance!

Yurie with other Wild Asia Awardees

Yurie with other Wild Asia Awardees

Our trusty Soksabike Manager, Yurie Nagashima, accepted the award on behalf of Kinyei last week in Bangalore, India. It was also an opportunity to showcase Kinyei’s mission, and Battambang’s unique potential on a world stage. Yurie was also asked to speak alongside Amy McLoughlin of Wild Asia on Social Innovation in Responsible Tourism.

A bit about the Awards: Wild Asia is the first Asia-focused, responsible tourism technical and strategic support partner working to sustainably enhance tourism sectors across South and Southeast Asia. Each year, Wild Asia chooses winners across five categories to showcase as leaders in the industry. Kinyei is joining the ranks of some of the most impressive tourism initiatives out there including Scuba Junkie, a marine conservation partnership in Malaysia, viavia Jogja, an arts, culture, gastronomy and adventure tour operator in Indonesia, and Lisu Lodge, a natural heritage tourism operation in Thailand. We are honored to join a community of conscientious tourism operators.

_A bit about the specifics of Kinyei’s Award: _As the recipient of the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative award, we are delighted to be recognized as a champion for grassroots initiatives for responsible tourism in Battambang and in Cambodia. Since Kinyei was conceived of, we’ve been motivated by inclusivity, community narratives, and the power of collaboration. Throughout our projects, from the early days co-creating digital communications solutions with local NGOs through the Profile Project, to helping launch Sammaki a local arts community gallery, to our social impact evaluations with our Soksabike Tour community partners, to sending Sakana off to Singapore to represent Cambodia in the regional barista competition, we have never done anything alone. Our recognition symbolizes the admirable efforts of all of our collaborators and supporters over the years. So, thanks to all of you!

We asked Yurie a few questions about her take on the awards, and, en route to India, she was able to give us some grains of wisdom – we’ll have them up for you to see so check back soon! In the meantime, you can read more in a recent Khmer Times write up about the projects. And for now we just want to say thank you for supporting the Kinyei mission! We couldn’t have done this without the efforts of so many of you. And if you haven’t stopped by for a cycle tour or an award winning cappuccino yet, we’d love to welcome you in!

Kinyei Cafe Team

Kinyei Cafe Team

We won the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award!

Kinyei, which operates Soksabike Tours and Kinyei Cafe, won the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award 2015 under the Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative category!

We are very excited to have received this recognition for our effort in promoting sustainable tourism practices. Please have a look at this Soksabike’s page on some of the examples of our responsible tourism practices.

winner responsible tourism award


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!)

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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
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