Coffee terminologies in Singapore

Written by Coffee & Nuts

When it comes to beverages, one of the most popular drinks that find its place in all cultures, societies, and countries is Coffee. Irrespective of the region Coffee is, and has since long, been an inseparable part of people’s everyday life. 

And with its exceptional properties to refresh our minds like no other brings it into an altogether different genre.

Every society or country where coffee has reached has adopted it but also has it given a very distinct and unique form & flavor. Singapore is no exception to it. It has also shaped this marvelous beverage into its own form. 

Here, you can ask a seven-year-old about the taste and richness of the deliciously prepared Kopi (Coffee). 

And thanks to this great acceptance of Coffee (or Kopi) in Singapore, these drinks are not only the common man special, but they are also the core of the Kopitiam i.e. the Coffee shop culture of Singapore.

Being a huge business and domestic life influencer Singapore’s Kopitiam captures a wide part of the country’s culture. And thus, there are many unique commercial and domestic terminologies associated with Coffee.

Now, before we discuss these unique terminologies of Singapore coffee it would be a good idea to delve into its background and find out its history in this country.


In Singapore, Coffee basically originated and thereafter achieved widespread popularity due to two main traditional start-ups, Killiney Kopitiam and Yakun Toast. 

It was in 1919 when Coffee was first introduced to the country by Killiney’s first-ever Road Shop. 

Since then, Singapore never looked back. The popularity of Coffee boosted at an unbelievably high rate and Killiney’s unique Colombian Arabica and Indonesian Robusta blends reached unseen heights in their popularity.

It was due to this rapidly growing business; Singapore’s coffee shop culture was given the name of Kopitiam

Thereafter, in 1926, the country saw another major step in its love story with Coffee, the introduction of Yakun Toast’ delicious coffee.

Yakun’s coffee started an ongoing culture of serving coffee into mandatory china cups printed beautifully with blue-white patterns.

The attachment of the people with this tradition is so strong that if you ask for tapau (takeaway- ask to serve in some other container), it is not taken in good taste. And with the slight tinge of anger, you would be served in carcinogenic polystyrene containers, and in the worst cases, even in some flimsy plastic bags.

Standard Ordering Terminologies

Using the following terms while ordering you would be served with the respective coffee types.


It is the Standard black coffee with thick condensed milk.


This is a Sweet Black coffee with sugar. This moderately strong coffee is best for recharging yourself for late-night activities and is also a good choice for breakfast.

Kopi-O Siew Dai

It is Kopi-O or Black coffee but with less sugar- preferred by the health-conscious folks. This plain coffee is delicious and healthy at the same time. In some cases, while ordering coffee with Siew Dai, you will be served with unsweetened coffee and separate sugar pouches/containers. 

Kopi-O Gau

This is extra Black coffee with sugar- a strong blend to energize your day. Having a cup of Kopi-O Gau you can efficiently perform even the most exhaustive of late-night office works or studies.

Kopi-O Gau Peng

Kopi-O Gau Peng is an extra Black coffee with sugar and ice. Chilled and strong, this mood refreshing coffee suits best in the harsh summers. It is the Kopi-O Gau with the revitalizing effects of chilled ice cubes.

Kopi-O Peng

It is sweet Black coffee with ice cubes and pieces. Sweet and moderate coffee that is perfect for fighting against scorching summer heat. The ice cubes give it a relaxing touch in summers.

Kopi-O Po

Kopi-O Po is a thin and weak sweet black coffee with higher water content- great for coffee lovers during meals or for quick energy and for others as a standard coffee. It is a weak coffee that won’t work too well for energizing yourself.

Kopi-O Kosong

Black coffee without sugar (unsweetened). For patients and extreme health-conscious, this unsweetened milk suits perfectly if you are just looking to revitalize your body.

Kopi-O Kosong Peng

It is Kopi Kosong or Unsweetened black coffee with cubes or pieces of ice. It is the Kopi-O Kosong that is suitable in summers.

Kopi-O Gau Kosong Peng

Unsweetened extra black coffee with ice. Super-strong plain black coffee that acts perfectly against unwanted dullness during scorching summers.

Kopi-O Kosong Di Lo

Thickest black coffee with absolutely no water content. It is mainly the thickest form of coffee, it is unsweetened, thick, and perfect for health-conscious coffee lovers.

Kopi Gah Dai

Thick coffee with extra content of condensed milk. One of the tastiest varieties of Kopi, this coffee, with its extra content of thick and sweet condensed milk is refreshing, smooth, and yummy!

Kopi Peng

Coffee with condensed milk and ice cubes. It is a standard delicious milky coffee with ice cubes poured to enjoy relaxation in exhaustive summers.


Black Coffee with evaporated milk- will be sweetened unless told. ‘C’ in Kopi-C stands for Carnation.

Kopi Ta Bao

To-go coffee. This delicious coffee is to quickly turn your energy mode on while you do not have enough time to sit back and relax.


The additional terms used with ‘Kopi’ have specific meanings. By using these additional terms you can ask for add-ons or removals from your coffee.

Black Coffee (no condensed milk content)


Carnation (black coffee with evaporated milk)

Gah Dai

Extra condensed-milk


Ice cube/pieces


Unsweetened coffee (no sugar)


Weak and Thin coffee (higher water content)


Stronger black coffee

Ta Bao

To Go

Xiu/Siew Dai

Lesser sugar

Di Loh

Thick (no water content)


So, we now understand how Coffee after reaching Singapore first turned into our beloved "Kopi". It then blended itself with the tradition and culture of the country and has taken many different variations of flavors and tastes.

No two cups of Kopis are alike.

With Singapore already being a blend of the old and new culture and with the wind of Globalization flooding the whole world, the Coffee in Singapore is finding more and more global variations every now and then.

If Singapore styled coffee isn't your cup of tea, why not try out our arabica coffee delivery?

Coffee and Nuts is a traditional coffee powder and beans wholesaler in Singapore. 

We take pride in processing our beans the traditional way to give you a great cup of coffee every time.

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