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Singapore Kopi (Coffee), Sheer Joy

Updated: Sep 10

Singapore is famous for many things but one of the things it should receive greater recognition for is its coffee - "kopi".

Strong, thick and sweet. Made from robusta beans (not arabica as preferred in Europe and North America), locally roasted, the coffee is often taken with condensed or evaporated milk. The grounds are simmered in a pot, filtered with a 'sock' and served hot. And it always tastes better when served in the small floral, ceramic cup.


There are many ways to order it and these are the most common:

  • Kopi The default order, coffee with condensed milk; 113 calories

  • Kopi Peng Iced; 113 calories

  • Kopi Gao Strong

  • Kopi Kosong without sugar

  • Kopi Siew Dai Less sweet; 104 calories

  • Kopi Gao Siew Dai Strong and less sweet

  • Kopi C with evaporated milk; 87 calories

  • Kopi C Kosong with evaporated milk, no sugar; 47 calories

  • Kopi O Black with sugar, 66 calories

  • Kopi O Kosong Black no sugar; 5 calories

(Caloric data from the Singapore health services and a variety of not always verifiable, online sources)

kopi gao siew dai
Kopi gao siew dai - from the bottom of the pot it's not for the fainthearted!

Another enjoyable part of kopi culture is that of the kopitiam - the coffee shop. Enjoying kopi with friends or family and also having a relationship with the stallholder or the other regulars. Kopitiams and smaller kopi stalls are a hub of social life and activity. Some have become successful chains, Killiney Kopitiam and Ya Kun being the best known at home and abroad. Many will serve snacks, likely toast with kaya (coconut) butter or eggs. Some may serve beer and other cooked food items: curry, noodles dishes and pau - filled buns.

No matter what your preference there is always one type of kopi, or another, that will meet your needs. I take my kopi gau siew dai and - bold claim alert! - without a doubt this is the best way to enjoy coffee in the world.

Last word - we cannot ignore Malaysia's role in this shared kopi culture. Actually, many say that it is even better than the kopi found in Singapore. Wherever you are in the world - search for a kopitiam and enjoy!

Stay Healthy



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