Have you ever wondered why Singaporeans drinking coffee in a Kopitiam refer to the drink as kopi? Well, this is because the coffee served here is different from the generic espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos you find in most coffee shops. Today we will be dissecting what exactly is Singaporean Kopi and how you can order them.
What Is Kopi?
Kopi is a local coffee beverage found in Singapore. It is a pure black coffee with a strong flavour profile and heavy caffeine content. Singaporean kopi is somewhat similar to the standard espresso you often find in coffee shops.
You can find delicious and rich kopi in places called Kopitiams (Singaporean coffee shops). These places serve amazing kopi at equally amazing prices, which is why many Singaporeans start their mornings with a quick cup from their local Kopitiam.
How Is It Made?
Making Singaporean kopi is a fairly unique and distinct process. High quality Arabica coffee beans are roasted in a wok together with margarine and sugar. Sometimes, roasters will also add maize and pineapple skin to create a more complete body and softer taste.
These coffee beans are roasted until they turn dark black brown. They will then be ground to a medium texture (a fine grind will cause the kopi to be too strong and a coarse grind will cause it to be too weak). Finally, the ground coffee will be strained using cotton strainers (that look somewhat like socks) into pots that are the size of a watering can.
The brewed coffee will then be poured into a blue – white china cup along with other additives, according to the buyer’s request.
What Goes Well With Kopi?
If you ask any kopi – crazed Singaporean, they would probably say it goes well with anything. Here are some of the most popular food options that pair well with kopi:
- Half boiled eggs
- Kaya toast
- Spicy chicken curry
- Pastries and baked goods
Key Terminologies You Need To Know Before Ordering Kopi
Ordering kopi in a Singaporean Kopitiam is not as easy as ordering coffee in a cafe or coffee shop. A lot of these Kopitiams do not even have a proper or complete menu, so you need to know the common slang in order to successfully communicate what you want.
If you are a foreigner, do not worry! Here are a few of the keywords and common sayings that you can use to order kopi like a local:
- Kopi: Sweet black coffee mixed with condensed milk
- Kopi Peng: Sweet black coffee mixed with condensed milk and ice
- Kopi O: Sweet black coffee
- Kopi-O Peng: Sweet black coffee mixed with ice
- Kopi O Siew Dai: Black coffee mixed with less sugar
- Kopi Kosong: Plain black coffee with no additive (unsweetened)
- Kopi Kosong Peng: Unsweetened plain black coffee with ice
- Kopi Po: Weak black coffee mixed with condensed milk
- Kopi C: Black coffee with unsweetened evaporated milk and sugar (fun fact: C stands for Carnation)
- Kopi Gau: Strong black coffee mixed with condensed milk
- Kopi Gah Dai: Sweet black coffee mixed with extra condensed milk
- Ta Bao: To – go
- Peng: iced
- Gau: strong
- Po: weak
- Kosong: no additive, just coffee