Kopi-O, Kopi-C Kosong, Teh-O Peng, Teh Halia, Milo Dinosaur… Ordering your drinks in Singapore is a secret language of its own. Even many Singaporeans like myself do not know it all. The westerners have their Cappuccino, Caffe Latte, Espresso, Caffe Mocha and Americano. Well, we have our kopi-c siu dai.
Kopi = Standard coffee with condensed milk.
Kopi-O = Black coffee with sugar added. No condensed milk.
Kopi-C= Coffee with sugar and Evaporated milk added.
The C in kopi-C is believed to stand for Carnation, a brand of canned evaporated milk that is commonly used by kopitiams. The real origin of C is lost in history, it’s a secret language after all. And no, kopi-C is not coffee with vitamin C.
Teh = Tea with condensed milk.
Teh-O = Tea with sugar added. No condensed milk.
Teh-C= Coffee with sugar and Evaporated milk added.
Teh Tarik = Tea with milk. Teh tarik tend to be sweeter than teh.
(usually found at Muslim stalls, tarik is the Malay for “pull”).
Teh Halia = Tea with milk and ginger water.
(usually found at Muslim stalls, halia is the Malay word for “ginger”).
Teh Masala = Teh Tarik with spices such as ginger and cinnamon added.
(usually found at Muslim stalls).
Diao Her = Tea with teabag. diao her means “fishing” in Hokkien.
Pimp Your Kopi & Teh!
To custom order your drink, simply add the following terms to the back of kopi or teh.
Peng = Ice. This will get you teh-peng (iced tea) and kopi-peng (iced coffee). And essentially, peng is frequently used when you order iced drinks at the kopitiam, like milo-peng (iced milo).
Kosong = No sugar. Kosong is the Malay word for zero. As standard kopi will come with condensed milk, you should order kopo-o kosong if you do not want sugar and condensed milk in your coffee.
Gao = Means “thick” in dialect. For a stronger brew of coffee, order kopi-gao.
Po = The opposite of gao, which is.. thin. So for a weaker brew, order kopi-po
Siu Dai = Less sugar. For example, teh-c siu dai, meaning teh-c with less sugar.
Gah Dai = More sugar.
Milo Dinosaur = Iced milo with a scoop of Milo powder on top of the drink
Milo Godzilla = Godzilla sounds more fierce than dinosaur, so… a Milo Godzilla is essentially a Milo Dinosaur with double scoop of Milo powder on top
Yuan Yang = A mix of both teh with kopi. Yuan yang refers to “Mandarin Ducks” in Mandarin. It is common in Hong Kong but not commonly found in Singapore though I highly recommend it.
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