Nanyang kopi has its own charms, even for one almost totally entrenched in the espresso culture.
I have written about espresso in Singapore and the waves of progress. But quietly, the nanyang kopi scene remains as a constant support to the coffee drinking public. Instead of $4.50 typical for a double espresso, only $0.90 for a kopi-o. Black coffee, made by the immersion method using a sock.
Almost everywhere, these kopi tiams (coffee shops) offer low cost coffee and tea to the masses. Almost all the time, they make the coffee using Robusta beans, often mixed with maize and often roasted with margarine. The roast is usually quite dark, and sometimes some sugar is added during roasting, making a caramalized roasted bean, very dark. This makes a dark brew, black, thick, and for the better ones, with a beautiful aroma.
But this little store, tucked in the corner of ABC Brickworks does something I have never seen in a kopi tiam. The gentleman who makes the coffee, the barista I guess, grinds each pot of coffee on demand. All the other stalls around the island use powdered coffee, pre-ground to make pots which are diluted to make the cups of coffee. I guess each pot making about 10 cups or so. The pot brews thick, and the coffee is diluted as it is poured into a heated serving cup...according to the order. One can order "pok" meaning thin or more dilute like an Americana, or "gao" or thick meaning less dilution.
|Note the grinder in the background on the left of the photograph.|
The same sock immersion method is used, but for each pot, the uncle grinds his coffee from beans. This alone makes the coffee much more aromatic, and a great difference.
The kopi-o is black, thick, and wonderfully fragrant. Much more than any other kopi-o I have tasted in town. He also makes a nice tea. And of course, kopi, kopi-c, and kopi peng...translated, coffee with condensed milk, coffee with evaporated milk, and iced coffee with evaporated milk. Along with toasted bread with bread and butter/kaya, and half boiled eggs. The food is not spectacular, rather perhaps just a bit above average, but the kopi is outstanding.
Hylam Street Old Coffee
ABC Brickwoods Food Centre, Blk 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-53 s150006 (Bukit Merah)