I had an interesting conversation with my Korean colleague, Jee, today. She has been living in Singapore for two years and always had problems ordering coffee at a local coffee shop. Since the uncle at the coffee shop can’t understand her, she ends up ordering Kopi O every single time!
“Why Kopi C, and not A or B?” she asks.
The terms used in our beverage names are not English. For instance, “O” in Kopi O is not part of the alphabet; it is the Hokkien word for “Black”. Another example is ‘Kosong’, the Malay word for ‘zero’, which refers to coffee or tea without sugar or milk. That’s why there’s no Kopi A and B! 😛
Order Coffee like a Singaporean
Good terms to know and add to your order:
O – Black with Sugar (pronounced as a short version of “Awe”)
C – With Evaporated Milk; like a latte – a lot more milk than regular coffee
Kosong – Without Sugar or Milk
Gah Dai – With Extra Condensed Milk (pronounced as Ga – Die)
Xiu Dai – With Less Sugar (pronounced as Seeyou-Die) HAHA!!
Po – Thinner/Weaker
Gau – Stronger (pronounced like ‘Cow’ with a G in front)
Peng – Iced
Kopi – Coffee with Sweetened Condensed Milk
Kopi Gau – Stronger Coffee with Milk
Kopi ‘O’ – Black Coffee with Sugar
Kopi ‘O’ Kosong – Black Coffee without Sugar, similar to Americano
Kopi ‘O’ Po – Weaker/Thinner Black Coffee
Kopi Peng – Iced Coffee
Kopi C – Coffee with Evaporated Milk and a little Condensed Milk; lots of milk like a latte
If you want thinner iced black coffee with sugar, you’ll say:
Coffee + Black + Thinner + Ice = Kopi O Po Peng
For tea, substitute Kopi with Teh (like “tai” in “tailor”). Try it and see how you fare! 🙂