A Cup or Two of Kopi

A few years ago I had traveled to Singapore on a business trip and of course when I arrived I headed straight to a coffee shop. The first one on the list was Toast Box. There are several locations throughout Southeast Asia and each has an assortment of buns (my favorite was the floss bun) and other snack and breakfast items. Interestingly coffee there is called Kopi (kOpE) and Toast box serves traditional Nanyang Kopi.

That first day I ordered a cup of black kopi, and was handed a cup on a saucer with a spoon. For the longest time while I sat there I couldn’t figure out what the spoon was for. I did not have cream or sugar so there was nothing to mix, and my food was considered finger food. I started looking around for clues and saw that every woman there was given a spoon and they were drinking the coffee off the spoon instead of by lifting the coffee cup to their lips.

I felt a lot like Shrek when he has dinner with Princess Fiona’s parents the first time. I set my cup down and started drinking my coffee with the spoon, the same way all the other ladies did.

It wasn’t until later that day walking around it dawned on me why they did this. Is it just a cultural thing? Was it manners my mom forgot to teach me? No, it was just so you don’t get lipstick on the pretty white cup.

Fun times with coffee and new cultures! Next time I go there I will definitely know how to drink my coffee!