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Kep’s cafe on the hill

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The Led Zep Cafe offers a place for wonder and tranquility and a good cup of coffee. Hong Menea

Kep’s cafe on the hill

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.

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Led Zep Cafe is located about 300m from the entrance of the Kep National Park. Hong Menea

“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.”

Over the years, the cafe has garnered the interest of local tourists as well, thanks to social media.

“Now visits of local and international guests come at an even ratio. Foreigners have known the cafe for a decade now. But recently, thanks to Facebook, there has been a boost in local customers as well,” says Srey Pao.

The Led Zep Cafe welcomes all tourists who trek on the National Park. In one day, the cafe sells about 100 glasses of lime juice, which has become fairly popular among the foreign tourists.

The shop’s peak season is after Christmas until late February.

“Because of strong winds during the rainy season, we close for business from June to July and re-open in August until the Pchum Ben festival in September,” says Srey Pao.

Aside from coffee and lime juice, Led Zep Cafe also offers snacks for the famished trekkers.

“Crepe is a popular snack. The taste is good and it’s not too greasy,” guarantees Anika.

Led Zep Cafe is located about 300m from the entrance of the Kep National Park. The park sits behind Veranda Natural Resort, about 7.6km from the White Horse roundabout sculpture in the town of Kep.

For more information, visit their Facebook page, Led Zep Cafe, or contact 010 311 712.

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