When I was little, I was clueless about kopitiam drinks although my father has been selling drinks since I was born.
by Stanley P, Carrybeans
A younger version of me usually opted for something simple like milo ping.
Now that I am older, my palette has become more refined and a simple cold chocolate malt drink won’t do anymore (there are those who disagree, though). It all happened after I worked part-time alongside my father, and opened my eyes to the wonders of kopitiam drinks.
Without further ado, let me impart solid knowledge about kopitiam drinks passed down to me from my father.
The 4 Golden Rules of Kopitiam Drinks
All kopitiam drinks can be generally divided into four parts: the type of drink, how you want it to be sweetened, the drink modifier, and the temperature of the drink.
Here’s the equation to a perfect kopitiam drink, curated for you.
Note: If you order your drink by only specifying the type of drink, e.g. kopi or milo, your drink will be served hot with condensed milk. Consider this the drink’s default state.
Types of Drink
This one is straightforward. The typical drink in a kopitiam is coffee (“Kopi”) and tea (“Teh”). But you also have Milo, Nescafe, Nestum, Horlicks, and many other types of drinks. The world (of kopitiam drinks) is your oyster!
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The default sweetener used is condensed milk. But you can also have plain sugar (“O”) or evaporated milk with sugar (“C”). If you don’t want any sugar, just say “Kosong”, and if you want your drink to be extra sweet and creamy, have both the condensed milk and evaporated milk (“susu campur”).
If you want to change some aspect of your drink, many restaurants will happily oblige. You can have your drink more concentrated (“Gao”/ “Kaw”) or diluted (“Poh” / “Pok”). If you want to change the sweetness level, just say “kurang manis” (less sweet) or “tambah manis” (extra sweet).
You can also have your drink pulled (“Tarik”) to make your drinks frothier. It is usually done for “Teh Tarik”, but if you want your Milo pulled, don’t let the social norms stop you!
The drink’s default temperature will be hot, but there’s also cold (“peng”/ “ping”) or warm (“suam”). If you want to want your drink to be colder or not as cold, just order your drink with more ice (“lebih ais”) or less (“kurang ais”) respectively.
So, how will your order look like?
Let’s look back at our equation.
If you want to order your drink, just fill in the categories with what you need. For example:
Drink type: Coffee (“Kopi”)
Sweetener: Sugar (“O”)
Modifier: Extra sweet (“Tambah manis”)
Temperature: Warm (“Suam”)
Using the equation, the order should be “Kopi O Tambah Manis Suam“.
Let me give you another example: I want to have an extra cold concentrated coffee with evaporated milk and no sugar. In that case, I’d just order “Kopi C Kosong Kaw Ping Tambah Ais”.
Which kopitiam drinks are your favourite? Tell us in the comments below!
Are you up for some nice, homey food? Well, Jabez Café might be the right choice for you.
Featured Image Credit: Carnival Munchies