How to Order Coffee in Singapore Like a Local


In Singapore, the locals like to have their breakfast at the neighbourhood coffee shops. Typically, on weekends, you will see groups of friends and families having breakfast over slices of bread with butter, half-boiled eggs, and a cup of coffee commonly known as kopi.


Coffee is a beverage that many in Singapore live on a daily basis especially in the morning for a much-needed caffeine boost throughout the working hours. You’ll usually see adults lining up at drink stalls waiting for their turn.

If it’s your first time at a local coffee shop in Singapore, you will learn that there are different ways of ordering coffee based on individual preferences.

Common Coffee Orders in Singapore:

There are more than 10 types, but don’t worry; we are here to help you order like a local.

Types of Coffee orders
(in Local Terms)
What does it mean?How do you make an order?
kopiKopi is a cup of black coffee with condensed milk.Can I have a cup of
kopi, please?
kopi gauKopi gau is a cup of extra/strong black coffee with condensed milk.Can I have a cup of
kopi gau, please?
kopi-OKopi-O is a cup of black coffee with sugar and without milk.Can I have a cup of
kopi-O, please?
kopi-O-gauKopi-O-gau is a cup of strong black coffee with sugar and without milk.Can I have a cup of kopi-O-gau, please?
kopi kosongKopi kosong is a cup of black coffee without sugar and without milk.Can I have a cup of
kopi kosong, please?
kopi siew daiKopi siew dai is a cup of coffee that is less sweet/made with less condensed milk.Can I have a cup of kopi siew dai, please?

It sounds like there’s an art of ordering coffee but don’t be intimidated. On your next coffee run, why not drop by your nearby kopitiam and say, “Auntie, one cup of kopi, please.” But remember, don’t use this style of ordering in Starbucks, else you might get a weird look from the barista. All the best!

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