While abroad it is always nice to support local establishments. I am a huge fan of local tourism no matter where I go and attempt to find a town favourite in restaurants or cafes to sample a drink or meal. My adoration in particular is for coffee and finding local cafes in the city to which I’m visiting. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy Starbucks and find refuge now and then in their cafes since they are a taste of home, but I also love the charm of something independent. Mariann of the blog Ian and Mar and this Instagram profile, agreed with me on this thinking and has contributed her discovery of the best local coffee shops in Singapore below.

Local Coffee Shops in Singapore
Local Coffee Shops in Singapore

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The Best Coffee Shops in Singapore

When in Singapore, you have to try the local coffee shops. And we’re not talking about branded or hipster types of coffee. We’re talking about drinks for less than $1 USD per cup!

In all corners of the country, there are outdoor food courts locally known as KOPITIAM, ‘kopi,’ which means coffee in Malay, and ‘tiam’ which means “shop” in Mandarin. This is where you will find food stalls serving local dishes such as chicken rice, laksa, nasi lemak, prata, and the list goes on.

Coffee shops in Singapore
Coffee shops in Singapore Credit: Ian and Mar

But in every hawker corner is also where you will find drink stalls that serve drinks such as Milo Dinosaur — a chocolate malt drink served with heaps of Milo powder on top, Bandung — a bright pink milk drink with rose syrup, or local coffee and teas, also called ‘kopi’ and ‘teh’, with probably the most variety ever given in the whole world.

Local Coffee Shops in Singapore
Local Coffee Shops in Singapore Credit: Ian and Mar

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To give you an example, coffee and tea, doesn’t only come in black or with milk, and hot or iced. You can also adjust virtually everything in your drink such as :

  • hot or iced
  • milk or no milk
  • if with milk, choose between evaporated or condensed milk, or both
  • thick or thin, which normally means stronger or not
  • level of milkiness
  • level of sweetness, no sugar, less sugar or more sugar
  • for here or to go
  • if to go, choose between a cup or in a plastic packet with a string handle
  • with teas you have an option to add ginger or have it pulled, Malay style
Coffee to Go in a Plastic Packet - Coffee Shops in Singapore
Coffee to Go in a Plastic Packet – Coffee Shops in Singapore Credit: Ian and Mar

To add to it all, the terms used locally are Singaporean slang, which are words picked up from the Chinese, Malay, Indian, and English languages. A cup of ‘kopi c gau siew dai’ translates to coffee with evaporated milk, stronger coffee, less sugar. Good thing English is spoken in the country which makes it less overwhelming for tourists who come to visit!

Coffee served at local coffee shops in Singapore
Beverages served at local coffee shops in Singapore
Credit: Ian and Mar

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One of my favourites, and by favourite, I mean the drink I not only drink daily, but sometimes up to twice or thrice a day, is TEH TARIK — pulled tea with condensed milk and sugar. For variation, I sometimes go for a more milky tek tarik which is called TEH CINO.

If you come over to Singapore, research online on how to say your preferred drink in Singapore slang before heading to a ‘kopitiam’. Or better yet, simply order a hot cup of ‘teh tarik’. Hopefully, you would love it as much as I do.

local coffee shops in Singapore
local coffee shops in Singapore


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Fill My Passport invited talented travel writers Ian and Mariann of the blog Ian and Mar to write about the wonderful Local Coffee Shops in Singapore. All opinions are theirs and were not influenced by Fill My Passport.

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