Friday, November 23, 2012

Caffeinated Pleasure - Order it like a pro

Don't recall since when I started to develop a love for coffee. It could possibly be when I was trying or should I say - suffering pulling an all nighter, with a great hope to finish assignments when I studied in Architecture school. That was probably it. I'll say it close to 20 years since then. Wow, time flies!
Of course at first I started off with those instant coffee, readily available in our family kitchen counter back then. The main purpose, I'm afraid, was not to enjoy it but aimed for the keeping me awake effects which sometimes worked, another not. I will spare you stories of chaotic, tragic moments when I  woke up at a drafting table at 3 am and found out that there were another 5 hours worth of work to be done but I only had another 3 hours left before I needed to wrap up and head to school ( looking like a panda ) My oh my, what a life.

In Thailand, before the time of the modern instant coffee arrived, we have our coffee culture which although much less but it is still continue nowaday. Coffee is called - " Ka-Fae " in Thai. One of my favorite is the Black Thai Iced Coffee - " Ka-Fae-Dum-Yen", or O Liang. O Liang is the name derived from the Teochew dialect, Chinese language spoken by many Thai Chinese population in Thailand. My family was no exception. The word O means Black while Liang means cold. The coffee is made out of mixture of ground coffee beans, corns and soybeans. Steeped together in a special strainer or Thai coffee/tea "sock". The coffee beans were roasted with rice and sugar to give a slight sweet taste when brewed. It used to be quite complicated to make traditional O Liang at home. Thanks to a pre-packed O Liang mixture which could easily be found in most Asian supermarkets these days, just make our life a lot easier.

Another variation of O Liang is to serve it with condensed milk and evaporated milk. Known as Thai Iced Coffee or in Thai " Ka-Fae-Yen". For those of you who have tried this version of Thai Iced Coffee would probably agree with me for its strong taste yet smooth and super sweet.A lot of calories in there but very refreshing.

In Singapore, coffee is called " Kopi". Singapore Kopi culture started around late 90's. A typical Singaporean style breakfast would be a cup of Kopi, Kaya toast and 2 soft-boiled egg. All of which you can easily get at any Kopitiam, coffee house. One of the oldest Kopitiam that is still operate today is Killiney Kopitiam located on Killiney road. Another oldest house is Ya Kun Kaya Toast. You could find them in most of shopping malls in Singapore though for a better experience, it is best to visit their main shop at Far East Square.

Make it traditional way
Soft-boiled egg with white pepper and dark soy sauce
Singapore Kopitiams have their own system of how to order Kopi and Teh ( coffee and Tea ). As usual, I always want to learn how to speak like local wherever I go. Though this time the local "Singlish" seems to barely make it into my system so far, except these Kopitiam lingo that were once the new challenge I had to face in order to get the coffee I meant to order. Here we go, just those for coffee I know so far. Let's start with basic coffee base

Kopi                     =  Black coffee with condensed milk and sugar
Kopi O                 =   Black coffee with sugar without milk
Kopi C                 =   Black coffee with evaporated milk and sugar
Kopi Kosong       =   Black coffee ( without sugar or milk )

There are some terminologies that you could add on to customize your order

Peng                    =   Iced
Gau                     =   Stronger
Po                        =   Weaker. They will just add a bit more water
Siew Dai             =   Less sugar
Gah Dai              =   More condensed milk

Kopi Peng
Here, let's practice ordering couple of cups.
If you would like to have an Iced Americano or O Liang then you would order Kopi O Peng.
My favorite Thai iced coffee could be equivalent to Kopi Peng.
A triple espresso would be Kopi Gau Kosong. If you like it iced then add Peng at the end.
You might notice that there is no skim milk option on the list, so there is no such thing as a skinny Kopi here in Singapore.

You can play around with the word combinations. Once you get a hang of it you can now order it like a pro on your next visit to Kopitiam. Think the same principles to order your Teh as well. Enjoy Lah!

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