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The Expat’s Guide to Ordering ‘Kopi’ December 18, 2009

Filed under: Local Bowl — thelittlebowl @ 8:40 am
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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! 🙂


4 Responses to “The Expat’s Guide to Ordering ‘Kopi’”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allanjit Singh, Lisa Tan. Lisa Tan said: The Expat's Guide to Ordering 'Kopi': […]

  2. Jee Says:

    Thanks again, LISA 🙂 It really helped me..haha ^^;;

  3. You’re welcome, Jee! 😛

  4. BigB3n Says:

    my fav drink of choice is teh o peng xiu dai

    but i always wondered why xiu dai is minus sugar while gah dai is plus milk?

    then how does one say more sugar?

    anyone insight?

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