On different occasions, I brought two of my caucasian friends to a local coffee shop, Hugh Mason and Charles Harbottle. While they both enjoyed the local coffee (I ordered Gao for both of them), I realized it must be extremely difficult for them to order any other variation from a straight up Kopi or Kopi O.

Photo (c) Danesh Daryanani

So, this post is dedicated to Hugh and Charles, and all other foreigners or visitors to Singapore. Hope this helps.

Local Terms Meaning Equivalent
Kopi-0 Black Coffee with Sugar Long Black with Sugar Added
Kopi Black Coffee with Condensed Milk None – be mindful that the condensed milk is sweet
Kopi C Black Coffee with Evaporated Milk None
Kopi Kosong Black Coffee without sugar or milk Long Black – no added sugar
Kopi Gah Dai Black Coffee with extra condensed milk None – very sweet!
Kopi Siew Dai Coffee with Condensed Milk but less sugar None
Kopi O Siew Dai Black Coffee with less sugar Long Black – about half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of sugar
Kopi Po Coffee with Condensed Milk but weaker (they add more water) None really
Kopi O Po Black Coffee with Sugar but weaker (they add more water) Americano with sugar and hot water added
Kopi Gau Strong Coffee with Condensed Milk None
Kopi O Gau Strong Black Coffee with Sugar Like a triple expresso with sugar
Kopi Peng Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk None
Kopi O Peng Iced Black Coffee with sugar Iced Americano
Kopi Gau Peng Strong Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk None
Kopi O Gau Peng Strong Black Coffee with Sugar Iced Triple Expresso with Sugar
Kopi Kosong Peng Iced black coffee without sugar Iced Americano without Sugar
Kopi Gau Kosong Peng Iced Strong Black coffee without Sugar or milk Iced triple expresso without sugar

OK, this is not a comprehensive list but you get the idea. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to rattle off the words in the right combination to get exactly what you want.

Some terminology that will help you order the coffee you want:

Gau – Strong

Kosong – No Sugar, No Milk

Siew Dai – Reduced Sugar

Peng – Iced

Gah Dai – Extra Condensed Milk

Po – Weaker or Thinner Coffee (more water, in other words)

C – With evaporated milk instead of condensed milk

Note 1: Skim milk is still not an option (i.e. no Skinny Kopi)

Note 2: The above works for tea as well. Replace Kopi (Coffee) with Teh (Tea)



(Important Update: Oregano’s is closed for good as of 25th December 2009. See this.)

I was born in Singapore but the first 10 years of my life, we lived in Kobe, Japan. The family came back to Singapore in 1976 when I was a kid and our first rented place was on Frankel Avenue. I’ve always been a Katong person having gone to school in St. Stephen’s and St. Patrick’s.

Back then, on Frankel Avenue, the only thing I could remember was a provision store called Yeo Brother’s which after many, many years has sadly folded. For many years, there was a row of shop houses on Frankel Avenue where nothing much really happened while just around the corner, Siglap was morphing into a Holland Village/Serangoon Gardens kind of situation.

Over the last few years though, there has been some major food activity on Frankel Avenue with Different Tastes (an eclectic collection of local food), Baba Inn (Peranakan), Cedele (Sandwiches and Coffee), Swiss Baeckerei (er, a Swiss Bakery), Gourmet Plus (European Bistro), Blue Lobster (Continental /French Seafood) and now the latest addition, which is a small, cute hole in a wall Pizza/Sandwich joint called Oregano’s.

Sample Page of Menu

Sample Page of Menu

(click pictures to enlarge)

It just opened on Tuesday, 14th April, a day later than planned and is run by a couple, Augustine and Charlene and another friend, Justina. I live very near there so I watched it being renovated with interest. My interest was further piqued when they brought in their coffee machine which was quite impressive. It is hard to get really good “ang moh” style coffee in the East so I was looking forward to it. (Lots of great local coffee though in the East though).

Anyway, I went there today for lunch and I was very impressed.

Smoked Salmon and Rocket Sandwich on Walnut Bread

Smoked Salmon and Rocket Sandwich on Walnut Bread

The Sandwich Opened

The Sandwich Opened

(click to enlarge)

I had a smoked salmon with rocket sandwich with walnut bread and an expresso. The meal was under S$10. For what I got, that was great value. Next door, Cedele has a sandwich/coffee set meal at S$10 but the quality and quantity of the sandwich I had far surpasses that of Cedele. Now, Cedele has good coffee as they moved to organic fair-trade coffee beans last year but Oregano’s is better. Only one slight problem is that it wasn’t hot enough. However, when I mentioned that to Augustine, there were no excuses and he said yeah, they are getting the machine tuned. I appreciate that kind of honestly.

But bottom line is that if all their food is of the quality, quantity and cost of what I had, it’s definitely great value for money and I’ll certainly go there again. An added benefit is that off road parking is free because it is by and large a residential area.

On a side note, these guys also have another outlet called Herbs & Spices which is interestingly, “Authentic Italian and Indian Cuisine” at Orchard School Campus Café plus Canteen, on 1 Lorong J Telok Kurau. I’ve never been there so I have nothing to say about that yet.

But yeah, highly recommended. At the moment, they only have 3 small tables and they are planning to double that but still, it’s quite small. So if it picks up as I’m sure it will, it may be hard to get a table.

Oh yes, one more thing. They are at the moment sourcing for the appropriate house wine and according to Augustine, they will charge anywhere between S$4 and S$6 for a glass of house pour. Again, that’s great value.

So yeah, check it out.


113 Frankel Avenue

Singapore 458230

Tel: 62529038

Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Friday – 11am to 10pm (No Pizza Available on Tuesdays)

Saturday and Sunday – 7am to 10pm (Breakfast available on Weekends)

Closed on Mondays


Update: 16th April 2009 – Went back next day with my sister and family. My bro in law had two sandwiches which he said was very good and my sis the Margarita Pizza. The good was that as usual, they were generous with their ingredients but we both felt that while the crust was nice and thin, it could have been a bit crispier and blistered (wood fired type) but the crust was a bit on the softish side. But still, for what you pay, great value. Mind you, they have been opened for 3 days so I’m sure it’ll take a few weeks before they get everything down pat.

Update: 22nd April 2009 – they fixed the pizza crust issue. It’s now nicely crisp and blistered.

Update: 23rd April 2009 – more food pictures from Oregano’s

Kahlua Tiramisu

Kahlua Tiramisu

Salad Caprese

Salad Caprese

The lady above is one of the owners, Justina, shaking up the Italian Juice for us. She’s wearing her trademark “Lucky Cap”. She always has that on.

And this is Chef Augustine.

Click any of the pictures to enlarge.