Like many other places in the world, espresso coffee is highly popular in Singapore, and is served in establishments all across the island. The stylish neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, in particular, is a haven of bookstores, cafés and bakeries where you can enjoy a well-made espresso coffee.
Not sure what to order? Here’s a quick overview of espresso-based coffee drinks. Espresso shots themselves usually come in three ‘sizes’, so to speak. A single shot of espresso, solo, is 30ml and a double shot, doppio, gives you 60ml. A ristretto is only 22ml, but it's much more concentrated. For a shot of espresso topped with hot water, order an Americano.
And if you've ever wondered about the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, here it is: a cappuccino is made from equal thirds of espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk; while a latte is an espresso shot with mostly steamed milk and very little foamed milk on top.
The flat white originated in Australia and New Zealand and has made its way into several cafés around Singapore. Flat whites are similar to lattes, but served in smaller cups so the ratio of coffee to milk is higher, and the steamed milk is supposed to have a more velvety consistency – though that will depend on the skill of your barista!
Don't miss the opportunity to try kopi, the local coffee of Singapore. Kopi is a thicker and more intense coffee than an espresso-based beverage. The coffee beans are pan-roasted with butter and sugar, then ground up and brewed in a cloth bag inside a metal pot. You can find kopi stalls at any hawker center, or try a cup at popular kopitiam chains such as Killeney and Toast Box.
Kopi is the standard variation: a cup of coffee with condensed milk and sugar. A kopi 'C' replaces condensed milk with evaporated milk, while a kopi oh is served without any type of milk. To hold the sugar, add kosong to the end of your order, e.g. kopi 'C' kosong is coffee with evaporated milk and no sugar.
For other types of coffee from the region, head to a Vietnamese coffee place like Trung Nguyen, where you can sample the distinct, strong brew from Vietnam. As with kopi and other coffee variants from warm South East Asian countries, Vietnamese coffee is often taken iced instead of hot – the combination of cold and caffiene is wonderfully refreshing on a humid day!
If you're in Little India, many South Indian restaurants serve Indian filter coffee, made by roasting coffee beans with chicory and adding large amounts of milk and sugar. And in the Arab Quarter of Kampong Glam, try Turkish coffee: a sweet, frothy black coffee which is served with the coffee grounds.