Exploring Art and Flavor at Java Creative Cafe: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Founded in 2000 by Dana Langlois, the cafe is more than just a culinary destination; it’s a testament to Dana’s vision of fostering creativity and community through shared experiences.

Dana, the Founder and Artistic Director of Java Creative Cafe, embarked on this journey with a passion for both art and food. “I started it when I was young(er) with a basic idea of bringing together two things that I love: art and food,” she reflects. This passion drove her to create a space where individuals could gather, converse, and immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of contemporary Cambodian art.

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Since its inception, Java Creative Cafe has evolved into a dynamic hub of artistic expression, comprising a cafe, gallery, and black box theater. “Its core concept revolves around uniting individuals through shared meals and conversations while promoting contemporary art through a public program that is inclusive and reaches a broad audience,” Dana explains. The cafe serves as a cultural enterprise, providing support and resources for artists within a challenging funding landscape.

One of the cafe’s proudest achievements is receiving the 2023 Eurocham CSR Award for Social and Community (SME), recognizing its commitment to nurturing Cambodian artists. 

“Java is very honored to have received the 2023 Eurocham CSR Award for Social and Community (SME) for cultivating an active and supportive arts program for more than twenty years,” Dana shares. 

Through curated exhibitions, community activities, and live performances, Java Creative Cafe offers a distinctive platform for artists to showcase their work and connect with audiences.

Beyond Hospitality and Art 

Java Creative Cafe has also been committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing as a community hub. 

“In addition to our dedication to the arts, Java prioritizes our environmental impact – being one of the early adopters of biodegradable packaging,” Dana explains. The cafe emphasizes sourcing local products and minimizing kitchen waste, ensuring that every dish reflects the flavors of Cambodia’s freshest produce.

“We support our community in a variety of ways, from how we source our products, to providing space for community groups to meet, and sponsoring community events,” Dana emphasizes. 

By fostering a supportive ecosystem, Java Creative Cafe catalyzes the growth and recognition of Cambodian artists on a global scale.

A Personal Passion

As for Dana herself, she is a driving force behind Cambodia’s contemporary art scene. A graduate in Photography and Fine Art, Dana’s background informs her work as an advocate for artistic craft and innovation. 

Over the past two decades, she has produced countless exhibitions and launched well-known artists through the Java Creative Cafe platform. Her dedication to the arts has been recognized internationally, with her work showcased in museums and galleries across the globe.

Living and working in Phnom Penh with her family, Dana continues to lead Java Creative Cafe with unwavering passion and dedication. From producing contemporary art programs to fostering community engagement, Dana’s vision remains at the heart of Java’s enduring legacy. As she reflects on her journey, Dana’s commitment to creativity and community shines brightly, guiding Java Creative Cafe towards a future filled with art, flavor, and boundless possibilities.

Tom Starkey
Author: Tom Starkey

Tom Starkey is an International Development graduate from Sussex University with 12-years of experience across 4 continents, Tom's goal is that he wants to showcase his love for Cambodia, where he lives, works and now happily calls home.

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