How to order your Kopi in Singapore

How to order your what?

Kopi means coffee. Local coffee orders at Hawker centres are just as complicated as the big chain coffee shops. Long gone are the plain black, white with/ without sugar. You need to know how you like your Kopi (coffee) and how to order it. Here is a short handy guide to help you.

Types of Kopi

Now if you order just kopi (pronounced “ko- peeh”) you will receive a coffee with condensed milk. Yes, condensed milk. It is incredibly sweet and one for those who need a real boost to start the day.

Kopi-C is coffee with evaporated milk and sugar.

Kopi Peng is iced coffee with condensed milk. Peng means iced.

Kopi pua sio is coffee less hot at around 60C.

Butter Kopi is also not one for the faint hearted (or with heart problems) as it is coffee with butter. The older generation tend to like this from my own observations.

Kopi gu you is, wait for it, black coffee with butter and condensed milk.

Kopi Ga Dai is coffee with more condensed milk – when a normal kopi simply isn’t enough to start the day. Adding “ga-dai” to any order will add more sugar to it.

Kopi-O is black coffee with sugar.

Kopi-O Kosong – is black coffee without sugar. Kosong is pronounced coh- soh-ung and means ‘zero’ in Malay. Adding this word to any order and you will receive it without sugar.

Kopi siew dai is coffee with less condensed milk. ‘Siew’ means less. If you make your order ‘siew dai’ your drink will be made with less condensed milk.

Kopi gau is strong coffee with condensed milk. ‘Gau’ means thick. Order ‘gau’ to add an extra shot of caffeine to your drink.

Kopi Tarik is one I have seen frequently ordered. It is ‘pulled’ black coffee with condensed milk. ‘Tarik’ means ‘to pull’ in Malay. A kopi tarik is a sweet coffee with a frothy top. Made by pulling a long stream of coffee repeatedly between two large cups. It’s quite a show and the coffee makers are quite skilled and don’t spill any. The idea behind this technique is to thoroughly mix the coffee and cool down the drink down slightly.

Kopi da bao is takeaway coffee and usually served in a plastic bag with a tie and a straw. Some hawkers charge extra for a takeaway cup but you have to ask for it.

Then there’s Yuan Yang which is a mix of coffee and tea. To me this is wrong on so many levels – but I’m a Brit and messing with a traditional cuppa (tea) is sacrilegious!


So next time you order your coffee in Singapore, order it like a local and sit down and enjoy your Kopi with friends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s