Singapore is a country with great ethnic diversity, and thus their daily spoken language is an organic mix of various languages, including Chinese (Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, …), English, Malay, and many others. The way Singaporeans order coffee in a kopi tiam (coffee shop, 咖啡店) is therefore also very different from what you would see elsewhere.
Kopi tiam refers to the traditional coffee shop often found in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc., and is different from Starbucks where you can simply name americano, cappuccino, or any other type of western coffee. To order a cup of desired beverage in a kopi tiam, you should consider:
- Do you want coffee or tea?
- kopi = coffee
- teh = tea
- Do you want hot or iced?
- [default] = hot
- peng = iced
- Do you want milk?
- [default] = condensed milk
- C = evaporated milk
- O = without milk
- Do you want sugar?
- [default] = with sugar
- kosong = without sugar
- siew dai = less sugar
- ga dai = more sugar
- [Optional] How thick would you like?
- [default] = normal
- gau = thicker
- po = thinner
- Kopi = hot coffee + condensed milk + sugar
- Kopi peng = iced coffee + condensed milk + sugar
- Kopi o = hot coffee + no milk + sugar
- Kopi o peng = iced coffee + no milk + sugar
- Kopi o kosong = hot coffee + no milk + no sugar
- Kopi o kosong peng = iced coffee + no milk + no sugar
- Kopi c = hot coffee + evaporated milk + sugar
- Kopi c peng = iced coffee + evaporated milk + sugar
- Kopi c kosong = hot coffee + evaporated milk + no sugar
- Kopi c siew dai = hot coffee + evaporated milk + less sugar
- Teh; Teh peng
- Teh o; Teh o kosong; Teh o kosong peng
- Teh c; Teh c peng; Teh c kosong
Language sources (mainly from Wikipedia):
- Kopi: coffee, from Malay
- Teh: tea, from Hokkien
- Peng: iced, from Hokkien
- C: fresh, from Hainan dialect
- O: black, from Hokkien
- Kosong: zero, from Malay
- Siew dai / Ga dai: from Hokchew