I’ve never been the type to order a cup of coffee at those expensive shops. I’ve just never developed the taste for it, I guess. In fact, the only caffeinated thing I can take in those types of cafes is a hot cup of cappuccino, and that’s only if I find myself out of the house and needing my regular afternoon caffeine fix. So yes, I have to admit I’m actually quite content with a simple 3-in-1 instant mix from the store.
But ever since having my first cup of tarik (pulled) coffee with heaping spoonfuls of condensed milk in Singapore back in 2008, I now find that it’s a concoction that I’ve been craving for ever since. In fact, it’s so addicting that my mom became a convert when she stayed with us in the Lion City in 2012. Now, we always have to have condensed milk in the house just for our morning cuppa.
|My kopi from Wang Cafe|
Tarik coffee with condensed milk usually sells for S$0.90 / Php29.70* (in hawker centres) to S$2.00 / Php66.00* (in more upscale/specialized establishments). Don't let the price fool you. Yes, it's cheap; but believe me, if you're a fellow sweet tooth sufferer, then this concoction is enough to fill your saccharine needs for the whole morning. And that's just from 1 small cup!
Considering how simple this thing is, it did take me a while to be able to learn how to order my perfect cuppa. For you see, unlike in the usual luxury coffee cafes where their concoctions are named in a familiar lingo, I learned that here in Singapore, it's actually more complicated.
As they say, Singaporean coffee is supposed to be served based on the customer's preferences. And since the culture is a mix of Malay and Chinese (among others), they've incorporated specific terms from both languages that describe their coffee preparation.
It's all well and good if you're a local, but for foreigners and visitors alike, it's highly confusing (at first, anyway). A lesson I learned the hard way when it once took me 3 minutes, 2 returns to the counter, and suffering through 1 really annoyed auntie's exasperated look before I finally got my coffee order right.
So in the hopes of sparing you the same enjoyable (?) experience I've had, here's a short list to remember when ordering coffee in Singapore (NOTE: Blatantly copied from the Nanyang Old Coffee website. Please visit them to show them some love.)
- Kopi - Coffee with condensed milk ("kopi" in the Malay language means "coffee")
- Kopi O - Coffee with sugar ("O" in the Hokkien dialect means "black")
- Kopi C - Coffee with sugar and evaporated milk ("C" in the Hainese dialect means "fresh")
- Kopi O Kosong - Coffee without sugar and condensed milk ("kosong" in Malay means "empty")
- Kopi Peng - Iced coffee ("peng" in Hokkien means "ice")
- Kopi Siew Dai - Coffee, less sweet ("Siew Dai" in the Hock Chew dialect means "less sweet")
- Kopi Ga Dai - Coffee, sweeter ("Ga Dai" in Hock Chew means "more sweet")
- Kopi Gao - Coffee, thick ("Gao" in Hokkien means "thick")
- Kopi Di Lo - Coffee, extra thick ("Di Lo" in Hokkien means "pour all the way")
- Kopi Poh - Coffee, thin ("Poh" in Hokkien means "thin")
This visual guide should be able to give you a clearer picture.
|SOURCE: Burpple.com, The Social Food Journal|
Excuse me, folks. I think it's time for my first cup of kopi for the day. J
*S$1 = Php33