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Singapore Kopi (Coffee), Sheer Joy

Updated: Jun 7

Singapore nanyang kopi coffee

Singapore is famous for many things but one of the things it should receive greater recognition for is its coffee - kopi. Usually enjoyed strong and thick.

Made from robusta beans (not arabica as preferred in Europe and North America) and locally roasted, the coffee is normally taken with a mix of condensed or evaporated milk.

The grounds are simmered in a pot, filtered with a flannel '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

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Another enjoyable part of kopi culture is that of the kopitiam - the coffee shop. Enjoying kopi with friends or family and having a relationship with the stallholder or the other regulars.

Kopitiams and smaller kopi stalls (in hawker centres) 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.

Singapore kopi hawker
A typical stall serving excellent kopi and a side order of banter

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.

How Long Does Caffeine Affect Us?

While we love our kopi, if you are drinking coffee in the afternoon - to keep you up - it can affect your sleep at night. The half life of caffeine in the body is 5 hours or so.

Needing coffee, or not feeling well rested, in the morning can sometimes indicate that one's sleep quality is compromised. This is more common than people think and an area where we regularly support our clients in their journeys to health.

But not just the caffeine is working on us... in the long-term, coffee consumption can improve health outcomes. For some it is their greatest dietary source of health promoting, anti-oxidant polyphenols.


Lastly, 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!


coffee kopi health benefits

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Related Studies

Chua KY, Li H, Lim WS, Koh WP. Consumption of Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine at Midlife, and the Risk of Physical Frailty in Late Life. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2023 Nov;24(11):1655-1662.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2023.06.015. Epub 2023 Jul 21. PMID: 37488031.

Susy K. Long-term outcomes from the UK Biobank on the impact of coffee on cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias, and mortality: Does the future hold coffee prescriptions? Glob Cardiol Sci Pract. 2023 May 11;2023(2):e202313. doi: 10.21542/gcsp.2023.13. PMID: 37351100; PMCID: PMC10282813.

Shin S, Lee JE, Loftfield E, Shu XO, Abe SK, Rahman MS, Saito E, Islam MR, Tsugane S, Sawada N, Tsuji I, Kanemura S, Sugawara Y, Tomata Y, Sadakane A, Ozasa K, Oze I, Ito H, Shin MH, Ahn YO, Park SK, Shin A, Xiang YB, Cai H, Koh WP, Yuan JM, Yoo KY, Chia KS, Boffetta P, Ahsan H, Zheng W, Inoue M, Kang D, Potter JD, Matsuo K, Qiao YL, Rothman N, Sinha R. Coffee and tea consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer: a pooled analysis of prospective studies from the Asia Cohort Consortium. Int J Epidemiol. 2022 May 9;51(2):626-640. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyab161. PMID: 34468722; PMCID: PMC9308394.

Kolb H, Martin S, Kempf K. Coffee and Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Arguments for a Causal Relationship. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 31;13(4):1144. doi: 10.3390/nu13041144. PMID: 33807132; PMCID: PMC8066601.

Chei CL, Loh JK, Soh A, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Coffee, tea, caffeine, and risk of hypertension: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Jun;57(4):1333-1342. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1412-4. Epub 2017 Mar 1. PMID: 28251341.

Poole R, Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Fallowfield JA, Hayes PC, Parkes J. Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ. 2017 Nov 22;359:j5024. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j5024. Erratum in: BMJ. 2018 Jan 12;360:k194. PMID: 29167102; PMCID: PMC5696634.



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