Singapore Coffee (Kopi) Guide: Difference in Price and How To order

2 min read

Singapore is known for its Kopitiam, or coffee shop culture.

As we progress as a nation in this fast-paced society, the very one thing that still maintains its tradition and defines us is the way we order coffee (kopi) and tea (teh).

Depending on your preference, the cost of your beverage changes.

Same same is Kopi, why the difference in price?

Ever wondered why is there a difference in the cost of my Kopi-O and his Kopi-C? Why do they cost different?

A quick look at the menu for Ya Kun, one will notice some of the price differences between each type of coffee.

Types of beverages from Ya KunPrice
Hot Coffee/ Tea$1.80
Hot Coffee-O/Tea-O$1.60
Hot Coffee-C/ Tea-C$2.00
Iced Coffee/ Tea$2.60
  • From the menu of Ya Kun, we noticed that various variant of coffee (kopi) is priced differently.
  • For Singaporeans with a deep understanding of the ingredients involved in each type of coffee, he can immediately identify the ingredient that accounts for the extra costs.

source: singfoodguide.com

Curious, we went around coffee shops to check out the prices. The price discrimination between each type of coffee is rather constant.

It appears that Singapore is rather consistent in terms of which variant of coffee to charge a higher price for.

We did a breakdown of what makes up every cup of your kopi to understand the difference in price better.

The ultimate guide to ordering coffee (kopi) in Singapore

Ordering kopi in Singapore is an art. While it seems difficult to understand at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is really.

The art of kopi-ordering is very much like how we use alphabets to form a word. There are terms that we use, and a combination of these terms can affect the type of coffee you get.

Editor’s Note: The same term can be used to order Tea (Teh).

Here is the meaning of each term:

KosongNo sugar
PoWeaker/ Thinner
Siew DaiLess Sweet
Gah DaiSweeter
CUse Evaporated milk instead of condense milk
PengWith ice
Tiao He"Fishing"
(To describe Chinese Tea, Teabag)

With the combination, they form coffee orders catered to the taste and preference of each individual. Here’s your ultimate coffee order guide:

Singaporean's TermWhat it means?
Kopi-OBlack Coffee & sugar
Kopi-O Siew DaiBlack Coffee, less sugar
Kopi-O GauExtra Black Coffee & sugar
Kopi-O PoBlack Coffee & sugar
(More water is added to thin the coffee)
Kopi-O PengBlack Coffee & sugar with ice
Kopi-O Gau PengExtra Black Coffee & Sugar with ice
Kopi-O KosongBlack Coffee
(No sugar, no milk)
Kopi-O Kosong PengBlack Coffee with ice
(No sugar, no milk)
Kopi-O Gau Kosong PengExtra Black Coffee with ice
(No sugar, no milk)
Kopi-O Kosong Di LoBlack Coffee
(No water added to dilute it, the thickest form of kopi)
KopiBlack Coffee & condensed Milk
Kopi PoBlack Coffee & Condensed Milk
(More water is added to thin the coffee)
Kopi GauExtra Black Coffee & Condensed Milk
Kopi Gah DaiBlack Coffee & extra condensed milk, extra sugar
Kopi Siew DaiBlack Coffee & condensed milk, less sugar
Kopi PengBlack Coffee & condensed milk with ice
Kopi Gau PengExtra Black Coffee & condensed milk with ice
Kopi CBlack Coffee & Evaporated Milk

Editor’s note: Do note that one can replace “Kopi” with “Teh” to get tea.


Further reading: What accounts for the costs?

We once discussed whether it makes sense to charge consumers for the costs of ice.

Also, we did a bit of research on the difference in costs of evaporated milk and condensed milk.

According to FairPrice, 385g of evaporated milk costs $1.25.



On the other hand, condensed milk costs $1.45 for 387g. 

Hence, condense milk is obviously the more expensive option here and yet, coffee shops are charging more for Kopi-C, which uses evaporated milk. This does not make sense!

Upon further research, we realised that evaporated milk is actually condensed milk, without added sugar.

This makes evaporated milk a healthier option. While the difference in price makes little sense, it is actually a positive one should it help coffee addicts stay healthy.

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