Six Ways Coffee is Prepared in Southeast Asia

June 6, 2020

Blame it on the rapid rise of purist third wave, and specialty coffee shops in Manila for the new appreciated “standard” of the beverage in the metro. Sugar in your coffee? Take that back! Caramel syrup? You better get out of there—and fast. We’re talking straight-up black coffee now, with options reduced to black, white, or mocha. Requests for whipped cream on top elicit the same response as a poorly executed April Fools’ joke.

Whilst more and more coffee-loving folk have started to ditch the green straw for more straightforward tasting coffees, it’s no secret that most of us still indulge in the occasional cloyingly sweet packet of the 3-in-1 variety. Travel to other parts of Southeast Asia, and you’ll find that most of the coffees served come incredibly sweet and extra creamy, jolting you awake with the ever-reliable combination of sugar and caffeine.

1. Kopi Tubruk (Indonesia)


Served in a beer glass, kopi tubruk contains only three ingredients: ground coffee, boiling water, and sugar. A tablespoon of ground coffee is placed inside the beer glass with sugar to taste (sometimes, even a solid block of sugar is used), and dissolved with boiling water. The result is a heavy-bodied beverage similar to Turkish coffee, that’s sure to keep you buzzing beyond midnight.

2. Kopi (Malaysia)


Known as a “poor man’s drink”, Malaysian kopi is made with cheap, local beans that are dry roasted with butter or margarine before brewed in a tubular-shaped filter (also known as a “sock”) for at least 5 minutes. Served either hot or cold, evaporated milk is added to thicken out and mellow the dark, burnt flavor of the coffee.


3. Kopitiam Coffee (Singapore)


Taking a cue from its neighbour, kopitiam coffee is brewed in a similar method as the Malaysian kopi, but is served in three different ways. Kopi, the most popular, is coffee mixed with thick, sweetened condensed milk, Kopi-C, is coffee with evaporated milk and sugar, and Kopi-O, is coffee with sugar sans milk.


Want it cold? Ask the auntie or uncle for a Kopi Peng. It’s usually served alongside some kaya toast, and soft-boiled eggs.


4. Khmer Coffee (Cambodia)


Sold in plastic bags in the street, khmer coffee starts off with coffee roasted in vegetable fat before they are ground, and prepared pour-over style using a metal strainer and mixed with condensed milk. Laos does an iteration called khaafeh, and so do the Vietnamese in their cà phê đá.

5. Cà Phê Trứng (Vietnam)


Also known as “egg coffee”, this Vietnamese concoction is prepared by beating egg yolks with coffee and sugar, extracting the coffee, and topping it with some sort of egg cream. Though the idea of raw egg in your coffee might come off as a bit queasy, just think of it as a drinkable tiramisu.

6. Oliang (Thailand)


Highly similar to yin yang coffee of Hong Kong cha chaan teng fame, oliang coffee is made with chai tea instead of Ceylon. Oliang is a mix of coffee, soy, sesame seeds, and corn (since coffee isn’t that abundant in Thailand), and after being seeped with the chai and filtered through a Thai cotton “sock”, sugar and evaporated are added into the mix.

Which of the coffees above are you most curious to try? Any interesting coffee methods you’d like to share? Tell us with a comment below!

Mikka Wee Mikka Wee

Mikka Wee is former editor of and was part of the team until she got whisked away to Singapore in 2016 where she worked in advertising and eventually found herself back in the food industry. She currently does marketing work for two popular Singaporean dessert brands and is a weekly columnist for The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s lifestyle brand, She has always been crazy about travel, food, and her dog Rocket.

1 comments in this post SHOW

One response to “Six Ways Coffee is Prepared in Southeast Asia”

  1. Volts Sanchez says:

    Kopi O Kosong or Kopi C Kosong, please…

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