Singapore kopi usually features Robusta coffee beans from the region roasted dark with the addition of sugar, margarine and sometimes additives like corn too. The roasted Robusta beans are ground and brewed to produce the familiar strong, toasty kopi that many Singaporean enjoy.
Kopi continues to be the go-to drink for many Singaporeans every morning as it is an inexpensive and satisfying caffeine fix.
What does “kopi” mean?
The word “kopi” means coffee in Malay.
In the Singapore coffee culture, the kopitiam drink lingo evolved from a mix of Hokkien, Malay and English.
How to order Kopi in Singapore
Here’s a “Kopi Lingo 101” table that’ll help you decode all the different types of kopi you might come across when ordering at a coffee shop in Singapore and order kopi like a local:
Kopi Ordering Guide
For the tea lovers, you can order Teh using the same guide above! Just switch out ‘kopi’ for ‘teh’. And in case it’s not obvious, here’s a cheatsheet:
Kopi Ordering Terminology
- O: Black, with sugar
- C: with evaporated milk instead of condensed milk
- Kosong: without sugar
- Gao: Strong
- Pok or Po: Weak
- Gah Dai: Sweeter
- Siew Dai: Less sweet
- Peng: Ice
- Pua Siow: Less hot / warm
Other interesting drinks you can order at the kopitiam
|Drink Term||What you get|
|Diao Yu||Chinese tea|
|Clementi – Lemon Tea||Lemon Tea|
|Michael Jackson – grass jelly and soya milk (may not be available at all stores)||grass jelly and soya milk (may not be available at all stores)|
The Unique Coffee Culture of Singapore’s Kopitiams
Singapore has a distinctive coffee culture, which is characterized by the presence of kopitiams. Traditionally, these coffee shops feature local kopi brewed with a sock. They tend to serve a small community and also serve as a social spot for the neighbourhood.
Today, kopitiams include several food stalls on top of a local kopi store that’ll allow patrons to enjoy a good meal, usually at affordable prices.
Despite the increase in demand for specialty coffee in Singapore, the local traditional kopi remains a key staple in Singapore’s coffee culture, providing a quick and affordable caffeine fix of countless Singaporeans every morning.
P.S. want to brew kopi at home? Refer to our kopi brewing guide here!