Coffee is called “Kopi” in Malay. In most cafes and restaurants in Singapore, you will notice Kopi or a variety of Kopis in the beverage section of the menu. Whether you want a cup of coffee with your Kaya Toast (kaya is a creamy coconut egg jam), or your brunch eggs, or just a coffee-to-go (Kopi ta bao), the below guide will help you order a coffee like a local in Singapore.
There are several permutations and combinations of the different ways you can order coffee, and there are really no European café equivalents of Singaporean coffee, primarily because of the use of condensed or evaporated milk. While it is tempting to go for a Cappuccino, Latte or Americano, trying a local coffee (or multiple coffees) at a new place is always exciting.
Important things to remember:
- Kopi comes with condensed milk. If you add an “O”, it means no milk, and if you add a “C”, it means evaporated milk instead of condensed.
- If you prefer no sugar, add a “Kosong”. If you prefer less sugar, add a “siew dai”.
- If you prefer a strong coffee, add a “Gau”. If you prefer a weaker/thinner coffee (with more water), add a “Po”.
Kopi: Black coffee + condensed milk + sugar
Kopi O: Black coffee+ sugar
Kopi C: Black coffee + evaporated milk + sugar
With no/less sugar –
Kopi kosong: Black coffee + condensed milk
Kopi O kosong: Black coffee
Kopi siew dai: Black coffee + condensed milk + less sugar
Kopi O siew dai: Black coffee + less sugar
With strong/weak coffee –
Kopi Gau: Black coffee (strong) + condensed milk + sugar
Kopi O Gau: Black coffee (strong) + sugar
Kopi Po: Black coffee (weak) + condensed milk + sugar
Kopi O Po: Black coffee (weak) + sugar
Other varieties –
Kopi gu yu: Black coffee + condensed milk + butter
Kopi gah dai: Black coffee + extra condensed milk
Kopi peng: Iced black coffee + Condensed milk
You can order a Kopi ta bao to make it to-go. My personal favorites are Kopi Gau and Kopi siew dai. Similarly, you can order tea just by replacing the “Kopi” with “Teh”.
Have a great coffee experience in Singapore!