Nanyang Coffee

The unique flavors of Southeast Asia

Nanyang Coffee

Greetings from BrewRatio and welcome to our page dedicated to Nanyang Coffee! If you’ve ventured to Singapore, Malaysia, or other Southeast Asian nations, you’ve likely visited a local beverage shop known as a “kopitiam.” This term is derived from “kopi,” which is the Malay word for coffee, and “tiam,” which is a local Hokkien/Hakka term for shops. Nanyang Coffee, or Kopi, is a popular coffee variety sold in kopitiams across these countries.

Despite its widespread consumption in Singapore, Nanyang Coffee, also known as Kopi, is still not as well-recognized in the Western world compared to international gourmet coffee. This discrepancy in popularity may be due to taste preferences, as the unique flavor and aroma of Kopi can be a surprise for those accustomed to espresso. Our experiences with foreign visitors and their coffee beverage choices support this idea.

Therefore, we believe it is important to highlight the distinctive qualities of Nanyang Coffee, also referred to as Kopi, that set it apart:

Taste of Nanyang

1. Beans

Nanyang Coffee is made from ground Robusta coffee beans. These beans are favored due to their ease of cultivation and lower cost compared to other varieties, but that does not mean that the quality of Nanyang Coffee is compromised. The flavor and taste of the coffee ultimately depends on the personal preferences of the drinker and the type of bean used.

2. Roasting

The traditional roasting process of Nanyang Coffee in Singapore and Malaysia includes the addition of butter and sugar to enhance Maillard reactions and caramelization. This addition results in a rich, dark, and creamy drink with a subtle creaminess. The careful roasting process also caramelizes the beans without burning them, resulting in a delicious aroma.

3. Taste

Nanyang Coffee is made using Robusta coffee beans, which undergo a longer roasting process, that includes the addition of butter and sugar, to achieve its bold and robust flavor. This create a distinctive, stronger flavor compared to a traditional serving of espresso. Thie bold taste complements well with the addition of condensed or evaporated milk.

4. Roasting time 

In contrast to the beans used for espresso, the beans for Nanyang Coffee are pre-roasted at a lower temperature over a longer period of time. This extended roasting process helps to develop the unique flavor profile of Nanyang Coffee.

5. Fineness of ground beans

The fineness of the coffee grounds used for Nanyang Coffee is much coarser compared to the powder used for an Espresso. The fine coffee grounds used for Espresso allow for the proper balance of water and coffee powder, resulting in a well-extracted coffee with a balanced flavor.


However, the local kopi baristas place less emphasis on the water-to-coffee ratio, temperature, and grind level of the coffee powder. The focus is more on fast and convenient coffee, fitting with local tastes and preferences.


To make Nanyang Coffee, the coffee powder is mixed with boiling hot water in a coffee pot and stirred. Then, it is quickly poured through a “sock” filter into a coffee kettle for extraction. This process results in a strong and aromatic cup of coffee, known as Kopi.

6. Coffee extraction

And, as mentioned in point (5), the most striking difference between Nanyang Coffee and Espresso is the method of extraction. While Espresso is made with an espresso machine that utilizes high water pressure, Nanyang Coffee is extracted by local kopi baristas using a traditional coffee kettle and sock filter. It’s amazing how the same drink can be made with two completely different methods! 🤔


But, you can also make Nanyang Coffee using another popular method, a V60 dripper, which will still produce a flavorful cup of coffee.

7. Post extraction of Kopi with add-ons

After the extraction of Kopi through the sock filter or V60 dripper, it is common for locals to customize their coffee by adding different condiments such as sugar, condensed milk, or evaporated milk, based on personal preference. The use of these add-ins is due to the robust flavor profile of the Robusta beans used in Nanyang Coffee. The sweetness of the condiments helps to balance the strong flavor and make the coffee less intense for some.

8. Types of Nanyang coffee

Nanyang Coffee

The traditional coffee culture in Singapore and Malaysia offers a variety of Nanyang Coffee options. From black coffee on its own to coffee with different types of milk and sugar, there is something for everyone. Here are the popular options to choose from at a local kopitiam:

  1. Kopi-O Kosong – This is a simple black coffee without any add-ons.
  2. Kopi-O – This is a black coffee with sugar added.
  3. Kopi – A coffee with sweetened condensed milk.
  4. Kopi-C – A coffee with evaporated milk and sugar.
  5. Kopi-O Kosong Peng – The same as Kopi-O Kosong, but served over ice.
  6. Kopi-O Peng – The same as Kopi-O, but served over ice.
  7. Kopi-Peng – The same as Kopi, but served over ice.
  8. Kopi-C Peng – The same as Kopi-C, but served over ice.

So next time you’re in Singapore or Malaysia, don’t hesitate to try a delicious cup of Nanyang Coffee and immerse yourself in the local coffee culture. Enjoy!

Savor the distinctive coffee of Southeast Asia

In conclusion, Nanyang Coffee, also known as Kopi, is a unique and flavorful coffee beverage consumed widely in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.


Despite being popular in the region, it is still not as well-known in the Western world. The distinctive qualities of kopi include its use of Robusta coffee beans, the addition of butter and sugar during the traditional roasting process, its bold flavor, and longer roasting time. The coffee grounds used for kopi are coarser compared to those used for espresso, and the extraction process is different as well, with local baristas using a coffee kettle and sock filter instead of an espresso machine.


After extraction, locals often add condiments like sugar, condensed milk, or evaporated milk to customize their coffee to their preference. Kopi also comes in a variety of options, ranging from black coffee to coffee with different types of milk and sugar, making it accessible to a wide range of taste preferences.


So, when in Southeast Asia, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the unique and flavorful Nanyang Coffee for yourself. Its bold taste and customization options make it a must-try for any coffee lover.

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