A taste of Nanyang coffee at Sepang's Chop Guan Kee


  • Travel
  • Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Coffee beans are spread on the ground for drying. — JERRINE TEO

In the quiet town of Sungai Pelek in Sepang, Selangor lies a small-time local coffee business that has been around for 81 years. The coffee beans here are roasted using traditional methods – with charcoal.

Today, Chop Guan Kee is a coffeehouse helmed by sisters Jerrine Teo and Teo Shao Hui, third generation owners who took over the business in 2021. Set in a kampung house, the shop serves not just local coffee but delicious local fare too.

“My father ran the business before us for 60 years. He roasted the beans himself, then supplied coffee powder to stores around the neighbourhood,” said Jerrine, 31.

“Chop Guan Kee is so much more than just a business, it is our family’s pride and joy. And being able to witness its growth is a precious experience. We are determined to keep our coffee heritage alive,” Jerrine continued.

Sungai Pelek is a thriving fishing village, thanks to its diverse forest ecosystem.Sungai Pelek is a thriving fishing village, thanks to its diverse forest ecosystem.

Between the 1940s and 1960s, coffee plantations and production flourished in Sungai Pelek, according to Jerrine. This was when her grandfather, Teo Hoh Hwa, snapped up the opportunity to start processing coffee beans. It was one of the many things he cherished doing. He had an entrepreneurial mindset and started selling other things like pisang goreng (banana fritters) and fire wood.

Jerrine said her grandfather would get the harvested coffee cherries from coffee farmers for processing.

“He would first crush the fruit to expose the beans. Then, he scattered them on the ground to dry under the sun. After that, he would separate the cherries from the beans, leaving just the raw green coffee beans for roasting,” Jerrine shared.

The Chop Guan Kee coffee house in Sungai Pelek. — GISELE SOO/The StarThe Chop Guan Kee coffee house in Sungai Pelek. — GISELE SOO/The Star

One of the hulling machines used back then is on display today at Chop Guan Kee. The old equipment has proven to be quite an attraction at the shop, which also has a mini exhibit of coffee processing as well as a series of old photos.

Jerrine said that she and her sister are still trying to improve the way they roast their beans, in order to “preserve the flavour of Nanyang coffee, which is rich and creamy”.

After drying in the sun, the beans will then be hulled to remove the parchment.After drying in the sun, the beans will then be hulled to remove the parchment.

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