How To Order Kopitiam Drinks Like A Boss

In this week's #SAYSMakan, we teach you kopitiam lingos so you won't ever order the wrong drink, ever again.

  • How familiar are you with coffee lingo in a kopitiam? There are many types of coffee you can order besides your regular hot or cold (peng)!

  • COFFEE: Letters that come with the drink like 'C', 'O', 'kosong' are like codes that unlock secrets to how you like your drink. It changes everything.

    • 1) Kopi: Coffee with condensed milk.

      2) Kopi-gau: Strong brewed coffee with condensed milk. “Gau” means "rich" in Hokkien.

      3) Kopi-poh = Weak brewed coffee with condensed milk. The “poh” means “diluted” in Hokkien.

      4) Kopi-C = Coffee with evaporated milk and sugar.

      5) Kopi-C-kosong = Coffee with evaporated milk but no sugar. The “kosong” means “nothing” in Malay.

      6) Kopi-O = Coffee with sugar only which is “black coffee” in layman's term.

      7) Kopi-O-kosong = Coffee without sugar or milk.

      8) Kopi-O-kosong-gau = Strong brewed coffee without sugar or milk.

      9) Kopi-peng/Kopi-ice = Coffee with milk, sugar and ice.

      10) Kopi-siu-dai = Coffee with less sugar. The “siu” is “less” in Cantonese.

      11) Kopi-gah-dai = Coffee with extra sugar. The “gah” is “more” in Cantonese.

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  • TEA: The terms used for coffee can also be used for tea

    • 1) Teh = Tea with condensed milk.

      2) Teh-C = Tea with evaporated milk and sugar.

      3) Teh-C-kosong = Tea with milk and no sugar.

      4) Teh-O = Tea with sugar.

      5) Teh-O-kosong = Tea without milk or sugar.

      6) Teh tarik = Tea with condensed milk that is pulled between two cups to mix it. "Tarik" means pull in Malay.

      7) Teh halia = Tea with ginger juice.

      8) Teh-peng/Teh-ice = Tea with ice.

      9) Teh-siu-dai = Tea with milk and less sugar.

      10) Teh-gah-dai = Tea with milk and more sugar.

  • CHINESE TEA: We sometimes say "yit cha" (hot tea) and "suet cha" (tea with ice)

  • Over the years, kopitiams have been mixing it up and inventing combination drinks. We like to guess they threw in whatever they could find in the fridge during the creating process.

  • CHAM: A combination of equal parts coffee and tea. The fancy crowd would call it 'YinYang'.

    • Although the ratios are in equal parts, we personally think it usually tastes more coffee than anything else.

  • NESLO: The perfect mix of Nescafe and Milo

  • GOO LENG PING: It's a mixture of rose syrup and evaporated milk

    • We think it pretty much taste like the highly sweet Malay drink, bandung.

  • MICHAEL JACKSON: The celebrity drink. It's not a singing cocktail but actually a mixture of soya bean and cincau.

    • The namesake is pretty obvious, given that it is neither "black or white".

  • BEER: In the beer region, kopitiams name their beers in 'ah pek language'. It's cool and also very random.

  • TIGER BEER: Usually called by its directly translated Hokkien name, "Lao Hor Jiu"

    • In Hokkien, "lao hor" means tiger while "jiu" means alcoholic beverage.

  • GUINNESS STOUT: An old favourite, uncles call it "Or Kau" which means "black dog"

    • "Or" means "black" and "kau" means "dog" in Hokkien. Unfortunately, we can't explain this because we also don't know why.

    • And no, this isn't a sponsored post!

  • If you don't know how to order in coffee shops, here's a guide to help you understand what you are ordering:

  • Last week on SAYS Makan:

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