If there’s a proper skill most locals have, it’s ordering coffee – kopi, we mean – from the local kopitiam. Do you know how to?
Say what you will, ordering coffee at a shop can sometimes be complicated. Who knew a babyccino is actually warm milk? Still, nothing’s more complex than ordering coffee – kopi, we mean – at a local kopitiam in Singapore. With over ten different permutations of kopi in Singapore, ordering the drink is a necessary skill locals need to have to survive these harsh landscapes.
We think the language of kopi is a form of Singlish all on its own. Expats and those who just got off the tarmac at the wonderful Changi Airport, stick around and we’ll guide you on how to order coffee in Singapore. Locals who need to brush up on their skills… we’re not judging you.
How to order coffee in Singapore: Let’s start with the kopis found at kopitiams
Black coffee with condensed milk and sugar.
2. Kopi Peng
Iced black coffee with condensed milk – btw, you can peng anything on this list, just add the word behind your order for iced versions, ie. Kopi O Peng, Kopi Kosong Peng, etc.
3. Kopi Siew Dai
Coffee with condensed milk but less sugar.
4. Kopi Di Lo
Extra thick coffee.
5. Kopi Po
Coffee with condensed milk but weaker (they add more water).
6. Kopi Gau
Strong, thick coffee with condensed milk.
A caffeine loaded mix of coffee and tea mixed together with condensed milk.
The kopi C category
By default, when you order a kopi, you’ll end up with a coffee and condensed milk. But say kopi with C anywhere in the name, and it means you’ll get evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. Fun fact: the C actually refers to Carnation, which is a brand of tinned evaporated milk. This brand is commonly used in local kopitiams and is now part of the staple kopi language.
8. Kopi C
Black coffee with evaporated milk and sugar.
9. Kopi C Kosong
Black coffee with evaporated milk and no sugar – think of it as a cafe au lait.
10. Kopi C Gah Dai
Black coffee with evaporated milk and extra sugar.
11. Kopi C Siew Dai
Black coffee with evaporated milk and less sugar.
And finally, popular kopi orders we love
12. Kopi O
Black coffee with sugar, it’s like a long black or Americano with sugar.
13. Kopi Kosong
Black coffee without sugar or milk.
14. Kopi Kosong Peng
Black coffee without sugar or milk, with ice. Think of it as an iced Americano (and if you psych yourself up enough, a cold brew?).
15. Kopi O Siew Dai
Black coffee with less sugar.
16. Kopi Gah Dai
Black coffee with extra condensed milk.
17. Kopi O Po
Black coffee with sugar but weaker (they add more water).
18. Kopi O Gau
Strong black coffee with sugar – this one’s for the triple espresso with sugar people.
19. Kopi Sua
Another order of kopi.
20. Kopi Gu You
Coffee with condensed milk and a slice of butter. Yup, you read that right. Perhaps you can count it as a variation of Bulletproof coffee?
21. Kopi ta bao
Takeaway coffee. “Auntie, I’m rushing to the office so one kopi ta bao, please!”
Now you’re armed and ready to order your local Singapore kopi!