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Singapore Kopi (Coffee), Sheer Joy

Updated: Jan 22

Singapore nanyang kopi

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.


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 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.


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!

Stay Healthy


Coffee consumption can improve long-term health outcomes. For some it is their greatest dietary source of health promoting, anti-oxidant polyphenols.


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Related Studies

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.

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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