Coffee is a staple of the modern lifestyle of Singaporeans. This may seem weird to onlookers since Singapore used to be a British colony, and we all know how much they love their tea.
But Singaporean coffee, or kopi as known locally, has developed rapidly over the years. Its taste and the culture surrounding it are unique to any other coffee on the planet. Singaporean kopi is a much darker and more viscous liquid than regular coffee, with a smoother flavour and enchanting aromatic smell.
We will now be exploring the distinct world and culture of Singapore Coffee:
How Are Singaporean Coffees Made?
While the specialty coffees you find in fancy coffee bars are made from expensive Arabica beans, regular Singaporean kopi is brewed from high-quality Robusta beans. This is because Robusta beans are rich in caffeine making them perfect for satiating your caffeine needs.
The first step in creating Singaporean kopi is by roasting the beans with either butter, sugar, margarine, or maybe even lard! These are used to create a brownish, oily, and caramelised exterior as well as add an enticing aroma.
Those beans would, later on, be roasted using a long-spouted pot and put inside a sack. This sack, small in size and made of cloth, acts as an infuser. The resulting concentrate would then be poured into a cup and mixed with sugar, water, or sweetened condensed milk.
💡Fun fact: it was difficult to find fresh milk during Singapore’s early days, so canned milk was chosen instead. Even though fresh milk can be bought from any supermarket these days, sweetened condensed milk is still the go-to sweetener.
How Do You Order Singaporean Coffee?
Kopi in Singapore tends to be highly customizable. Customers have different tastes and would often have very specific requests. They usually use the following Singlish slangs to order coffee:
- Kopi: more or less the default version, made from brewed coffee and sweetened canned milk.
- Kopi C: this version is less creamy and much more similar to coffee in western countries. It is made of brewed coffee, unsweetened canned milk, and sugar.
- Kopi O: brewed coffee with sugar but without any milk.
- Kopi C Kosong: brewed coffee with unsweetened condensed milk, no sugar.
- Kopi O Kosong: tastes more bitter than others on the list as it only consists of brewed coffee without any sugar or milk.
There are a few other terms that you can use to further customise your drink:
- Peng: this means to add ice to your coffee
- Gah Dai: this means to make the drink sweeter
- Siu Dai: this means to make the drink less sweet
- Poh: this means to make the coffee weaker – less caffeine
- Gau: this means to make the coffee stronger – more caffeine
⚠️Warning: Don’t say “coffee” when ordering or they will bring you instant coffee!
Where To Drink Singaporean Kopi?
Kopi are always ground and brewed on-site at places called Kopitiams. A Kopitiam is basically a local coffee house where Singaporeans like to hang out with their peers. They primarily serve kopi but also offer several other things such as snacks, breakfast items, and occasionally heavier lunch/dinner meals.
You can find a Kopitiam on almost every street, and their kopi is an essential aspect of Singapore’s social life.