The Evolution of Singaporean Coffee Culture

Singapore is at the forefront of many global trends, and how could they not be when it’s a melting pot of so many different cultures, as well as home and headquarters to so many big brands and businesses? What you might not associate Singapore with is its thriving coffee culture (or ‘Kopitiam’ as it’s known), and that might be that it’s constantly changing, with locals and visitors driving this scene to dizzying heights. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of Singaporean coffee culture, and understand where coffee culture was born and what is to come for this enormous growth market.


coffee in Singapore

The Beginning of Coffee in Singapore

In the same vein as the croissant, baguette and many other accidental inventions, coffee culture in Singapore occurred to service the European population that came to Singapore in the 19th century when the borders were opened to immigrants. These Europeans quickly began building and changing the Singapore landscape following the success they had seen in their mother countries, and the locals rallied around them to offer coffee and coffee houses to support these workers. While the Arabica bean was what the European immigrants were accustomed to, the Singaporeans quickly adapted the more affordable Robusta bean and upskilled themselves to prepare something on par with the expectation. This curiosity and drive would be something that never left the coffee culture of Singapore.


The Current Coffee Culture in Singapore

Singapore has a diverse ethnic mix, with influences that have culminated in a strong tea consuming community, and second, comes coffee. Coffee consumption is an active culture that is experiencing great growth potential and has culminated in some fantastic retail coffee establishments, showing huge growth potential for investors in Singapore. Younger generations are aligning with global coffee trends and their coffee consumption is replacing tea, which is a significant milestone for Singapore. 

Coffee pods and quality bean blends are also widely available in grocery stores now, which is another sign of growth as you could only purchase instant coffee in stores abut five years ago. Given that the younger generations have embraced coffee culture in Singapore, expecting more from their offering, it’s safe to say that this demand and the continuous innovation of an ethnically mixed place such as Singapore will continue to support the evolution of coffee culture, whatever form it takes.


How is a Traditional Singapore Coffee Made?

There are more than a few places where you can order a cup of coffee and see it made and taste exactly as you would expect in any Western country, although if you would like a traditional Singapore coffee (or ‘kopi’ as it is known), you will not regret it. The flair might change from one coffee house to the next, but making a kopi starts with using a Robusta bean for its high-caffeine dosage. The beans are placed in a large wok to roast alongside sugar and butter until they are caramelised with the most enticing aroma that you can imagine. Using a small cloth as an infuser, the coffee bean mixture is strained into a cup or mug, which is then mixed in with condensed milk. This coffee can be enjoyed hot or cold (iced).

This creamy creation is a generous caffeine hit, with the flavour ideal for morning, noon or night. When travelling and living in Singapore, you can usually expect these coffees to be designed in front of you or ready to go in a pot – with the experience and price varying. Given that Singapore is a cultural melting pot, it is no surprises that some coffee goers will order a barista-style espresso and then mix in their own condensed milk to get a hybrid coffee incorporating the best of two worlds.

Another thing to note is that while the coffee culture in Singapore is going from strength to strength, you might not have the same flexibilities you enjoy in Melbourne when it comes to milk and sugar supplements. Coconut sugar, stevia and your oat milk preference might need to take a backseat when you order a kopi – but always ask because you might be in luck with the younger generations opening their own retail coffee houses and meeting the demands of the modern coffee drinker.



Corporate Coffee feels honoured to play a small part in the growth and evolution of coffee culture in Singapore. Each of our bean blends and coffee machines are available for purchase and hires. So, if you would like to enjoy a coffee or kopi with your diverse mix of colleagues and learn about each other’s authentic techniques – talk to our team today about furnishing your office with a quality coffee machine in Singapore.