Singapore Coffee Guide: How to Order Kopi Like a Local

Singapore local coffee is a must try when you’re a coffee drinker. You cannot just leave Singapore without trying. It is part of their culture, even how the country have evolved to become to what it is today, they still maintain this kopi tradition.

Despite I work here for many years, I just had the interest last year to learn how to order my coffee in kopitiam or hawker centre like a local. I struggled for years how to translate my order. Let’s face it not all aunties/uncles can understand when you order your coffee in english so that’s where my struggle kicks in. Most of the time, I ended not getting the coffee that I wanted. But sometimes, I got lucky that some stranger is so helpful and do the translation for me.

Fast forward to today (ahem!) I can now order like a local. Here’s the ultimate guide how to order your coffee from kopitiam like a pro. But, before that, you also need to be familiar with few local terms.

Local Terms Meaning
Kopi Coffee
Kosong No sugar
Xiu Dai Less sugar
O Black with sugar
C Use Evaporated milk & sugar instead of condensed milk
Ga Strong
Po Weaker/Thinner coffee
Siew Dai Less sweet
Gah Dai Extra condensed milk
Peng Ice
Kopi Ta Bao Takeaway coffee


Here are the list of local coffee choices and its meaning.

Coffee Menu Meaning
Kopi Coffee with condensed milk
Kopi Gau Strong coffee with condensed milk
Kopi Peng Coffee with condensed milk and ice
Kopi O Siew Dai Coffee with less sugar
Kopi Siew Dai Coffee with condensed milk and less sugar
Kopi C Coffee with evaporated milk and sugar

(the C stands for Carnation)

Kopi O Coffee with sugar
Kopi O Peng Coffee with sugar and ice
Kopi O Gau Strong black coffee with sugar
Kopi O Po Coffee with sugar but weaker, more water added
Kopi Po A weaker coffee with condensed milk
Kopi Kosong black coffee or long black no sugar and milk
Kopi Kosong Peng black coffee or long black no sugar and milk with ice
Kopi Gah Dai Black coffee with extra condensed milk


You are now fully equipped to order your next kopi with confidence.


Do you have anything to add-on? Let us know at the comments below. 



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