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17042022 teh and kopi singapore

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

profileMing Feng

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

Despite Singapore progressing rapidly, one tradition that still remains is how we order coffee (kopi) and tea (teh).

But have you ever stopped to wonder why is there a difference in the cost of a cup of Kopi-O and Kopi-C?

Source: The Simpsons | Giphy

Why is there a difference in cost?

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


TL;DR: Guide to Ordering Kopi or Teh in Singapore and Why There’s a Difference in Price


Price of Kopi in Singapore + Price of Teh in Singapore

A quick look at the menu for Ya Kun Kaya Toast at the Metropolis on Grab,Β one will notice some of the price differences between each type of coffee:

Source: Grab | Ya Kun
Types of beverages from Ya KunPrice
Hot Coffee-O/Tea-O$1.60
Hot Coffee/Tea$1.80
Hot Coffee-C/ Tea-C$2.00

If you understand the ingredients used for each type of coffee, you can immediately identify why Kopi-O costs less than Kopi and Kopi C.

Generally, most coffee shops in Singapore follow this pricing hierarchy for each type of coffee.

Thus we did a breakdown of what makes up every cup of your Kopi to understand the difference in the price better.

How to Order Kopi or Teh in Singapore?

Ordering Kopi in Singapore is an art.

While it seems difficult to understand at first, it is really easy once you get the hang of it.

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.

Here is the meaning of each term:

TermsMeaning
KopiCoffee
TehTea
KosongNo sugar
GauStrong
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?
(Ingredients)
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. Also, if you want the iced versions, just say ‘peng’ (Hokkien for ice) at the end of each name.

If you are a more visual person, here is the infographic version of the table:

Ordering Tea or Coffee in Singapore Like a Local Infographic

Breakdown of Costs for Kopi and Kopi-C

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

Also, we did some research on the cost difference between the evaporated milk used to make Kopi-C and the condensed milk used to make Kopi.

According to FairPrice, a 385g can of evaporated milk costs $1.50:

Source: FairPrice

On the other hand, a 385g can of condensed milk costs $1.70:

Source: FairPrice

The strangest thing is that even though Kopi-C should be more expensive, coffee shops are charging more for Kopi-C, which uses the cheaper evaporated milk compared to Kopi, which is made with the more expensive condensed milk.

Also, this is something you want to know.

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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About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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