The Art of Ordering a Drink in Singapore Coffee Shops

Ordering a drink in a Singapore coffee shop can be quite daunting for some. No, we’re not referring to those English coffee shops where you leisurely sip the English coffee with a little biscuit or cracker by your saucer. We are referring to the traditional coffee shops where locals also call “Kopi-Tiam”. Usually located in residential areas, we could get soft-boiled eggs and toasted bread for breakfast, Nasi Lemak for lunch, Roti-Prata for tea, Chicken Rice for dinner, Barbeque Seafood for supper, and more, all under the same roof.

An aromatic cup of traditional kopi

Back to the ordering of drinks, not only do foreigners find it confusing, locals who do not frequently place such orders may get mixed up with the long list of combinations too. What it requires though, is just some knowledge of the local slangs. With some skills and experience, you’ll get your desired drink on your table smoothly!

Let’s get some basics on local languages first. You’ll need to remember that Singapore is made up of various races (mainly Chinese, Malay, Indians and Eurasians), hence there could be a combination of various languages in just a sentence.

For example, “Teh C Kosong Peng” is a mixture of the Hokkien, Hainanese (both Chinese dialects) and Malay languages. By the way, it means “iced tea with evaporated milk and no sugar”.

Next, you’ll need to know the common terms that locals use when placing an order. Below is a list for your easy reference.

So now that you are equipped with the knowledge of the language, go and be creative on your combination of drinks!

(Disclaimer: Some combinations really do not work, so be creative at your own risk!)

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