23 Jan 2020
Nowadays, most of the people don’t start their day without a cup of coffee. The rich dark liquid has become a staple, especially for working people who claim to be not as functional without caffeine in their bloodstream. Its presence has become so prevalent that every corner of the street is laden with coffee shops.
However, for coffee-lovers who have had enough of the bustling noise of the metro, one cafe offers the perfect solution.
Nestled in the 8km trekking trail of the Kep National Park, the Led Zep Cafe offers a place for wonder and tranquility and, of course, a good cup of coffee.
The cafe was founded by now-deceased French entrepreneur Christian Debinut, who spent years exploring and mapping the forested hills of Kep.
Since his passing, Cambodians Srey Pao and Lang Anika took over the cafe and have continued to sustain its operation since.
“The Led Zep Cafe was launched in 2005. During the first few years, 90 per cent of our customers were foreign tourists who had heard of the cafe from online promotions, such as TripAdvisor,” says Srey Pao.
Speaking about Debinut, Anika says the French founder moved to the Kingdom in 2004: “He loved Cambodia and wanted to live out his years here. He wanted his remains to be kept in the park, as well.
“His last wish was for us to continue his work by maintaining the park’s cleanliness and renewing the trail signs he put up prior to his death,” recalls Anika.
The cafe on the hill is the sole distributor of the trail’s detailed map, which was sketched by Debinut himself over the course of 20 years.
“I don’t know how much time he spent drawing the map. I think Christian [Debinut] started drawing every significant spot and view along the trail when he decided to live here,” says Anika.
She continues: “Though we don’t allow people to take a photo of the map, we distribute another map, though not so detailed.
“We provide a map for every guest who wants to trek in the National Park, but we withheld some details [from Debinut’s map] as we wanted to highlight only the major spots.”