The elephant coffee bean is rare. No other Philly restaurant or store sells it, and it's very much a Malaysian delicacy. No, it's not what you might be thinking, it has nothing to do with the way it's grown. Actually, elephant beans are named for their size (pictured below) — they're big, porous monsters that soak up the flavors of their surroundings, and they taste nothing like traditional Arabica, nor do they anything like Robusta. This bean is of the Liberica sort — baritone, inky, and especially earthy. No acidity, no citrus, just a deep, head-knocking brew that can only come from this specific bean. And the only one place you get it around here is at Saté Kampar.
Only in her third month of restaurant ownership, Saté Kampar owner Ange Branca has already done an admiral job bringing authentic Malaysian flavors to Philadelphia. She sources many of her ingredients directly from home, the restaurant's interior is decorated with uber-traditional Malaysian tchotchkes and antiques, and the tableware is exactly as you might find on the streets of Jalan Alor. That was the easy part. Getting the elephant bean was a much harder task:
She had her family back home roam the country, searching for the right coffee farmer and roaster. They chose Sai Kee, and Branca had to get it approved by the FDA, which, if you don't know, can be a long and laborious process. After a few months of sifting through the beaurocracy of it all, Branca finally got the O.K.
Starting next week, Sate Kampar will serve elephant bean coffee in two styles:
- Elephant Kopi - a Malaysian blend of elephant and robusta beans roasted with sugar, margarine and sesame seeds, making for an easier, nuttier brew. It's brewed in a pot using a cloth filter (called a "sock"). $5 a cup. Available always.
- Elephant Coffee - 100% elephant bean roasted with nothing added, brewed in a syphon pot for $20 a pot (3 cups). Only available for brunch.
At the front of the store, she has a small cabinet full of Malaysian goods (cookies, snacks and raw ingredients) available for retail purchase. Look for bags of elephant bean coffee there, too: $18 a bag for the elephant kopi, $28 for elephant coffee.