Friday, March 01, 2013

kopi see (coffee with evaporated milk)


I'm really an americano kinda girl. If you're into coffee culture, you'd probably know that an americano (aka "long black" or "caffee lungo" or "aqua sporca") is what Italians call an espresso that's been diluted by at least an equal amount of hot water, into something the coffee gods of Europe deem suitable only for Americans with soft hands, and no stomach for real coffee. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. It gets worse; "aqua sporca" is Italian for dirty water. *yikes* I am not making this up. And I have absolutely nothing against Americans, soft hands or weak coffee. I mean, I love weak coffee, apparently.




You're more likely to find me sipping an americano from a Starbucks or Coffee Bean thimble.... er....cup, when I find five-dollar bills on the sidewalk, or more often, slurping my caffeinated home brew out of my trusty cafetiere, rather than enjoying a steaming cup of kopi from the nearest kopi tiam. The kopi tiam or coffee shop is a local institution renowned for  unpretentious, sock-it-to-your-solar-plexus coffee and tea based beverages that won't make your wallet cry, even after three mammoth shots, or a round for every one in the house, for that matter. Makes you wonder how these guys can operate, often right around the clock, serving up liquid gold, without charging you the earth for it. Best get your head out of the horse's mouth and pucker up to another cup of kopi instead...



I love me a steaming, fragrant cup of local teh tarik, but the kopi tiam style coffees, I find a lot less charming because I don't like my coffee beans brassy and brazen, roasted nigh unto death and crusted with virtually carbonised sugar. As you could probably imagine, the kind of coffee that emerges from such beans has nothing in common with the words "nuance" or "bouquet". It's all body - bitter, black, very, very toasty, smack you on the forehead, thick as sludge, BODY. Not my coffee style. Usually.



There is one, and only one style of coffee I enjoy from the kopi tiam though. Kopi see. It's also the only kind of milked coffee I will touch. All that bitterness and body is tamed by silky, creamy evaporated milk into something quite beautiful. The minute the steaming coffee hits the pool of evaporated milk and sugar at the bottom of the glass, the most gorgeous toasted nut and caramel aromas unfurl from the swirling waves of cold milk and hot coffee, lingering just long enough at the tip of the nose to tantalise and intoxicate, on their heavenward journey, no doubt, to tempt the angels. I'm pretty sure, in heaven, the one thing you remember of your earthly existence, is the smell of coffee, first thing in the morning. That, and possibly...... sizzling bacon.






21 comments:

  1. I am going to try this. I have a can of evaporated milk, and did not know what to do with it - perfect!
    And I enjoyed the poetry : "aromas unfurl from the swirling waves of cold milk.... " this coffee clearly inspires you ;-)

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    1. I hope you do Elana, because, I swear, it's like caffeinated candy, in a glass! Once I start, I can't stop till every drop's gone, and then, I toy with the idea of stirring up another pot!!! Sure isn't helping me stay comfy in my jeans :P But, it is as delicious as a cup of coffee can get. Let me know what you think...

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  2. LOL - so how many time you find a 5bucks on sidewalk ? next time, buy 1 cup for me too .. don't be stingy ^_^ - I'm not much fan of coffee but coffee + lot lot of cream!! (do you still considering those as a cup of coffee LOL (love your coffee cups, so vintage!! )

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    1. Hmmm..... once every 2 years probably LOL Starbucks is expensive, so I only drink with other people's money, not my own ;) So you like cream, with coffee then? Next time I find some money on the sidewalk, I will give you a call :D

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  3. Replies
    1. It is Tia! Thanks for visiting. Hope you come back soon :)

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  4. I love coffee...Tauke, one Kopi see for me pleasessss!!!!Haha...

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    1. Me too!!! Everyday must lim kopi or else, HEADACHE :P Thanks for stopping by Esther :)

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  5. I can't do kopi from most kopi stalls any more, an exception is one particular stall in the blk 216 bedok market. To save myself from bankruptcy (liberty, artistry & etc), I've resorted to making vietnamese coffee at home.

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    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for the kopi tiam tip. Hmm.... been lusting after a Vietnamese coffee maker, to add to my coffee maker collection, for a while now. Btw, have you had any luck with the unwaxed lemon hunt?

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  6. It's great to have this recipe. We loved kopi see when we visted Singapore. I found your blog about a week or so ago through Foodgawker/Tastespotting and now it seems that every time I click through to pin a recipe, it's yours. :) Loving your blog!

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    1. Hi Lori, what a lovely thing to say!! Thank you so much. Btw - my husband is always telling me what a horrible bed hogger I am too LOL Hope you continue to enjoy your visits here :)

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  7. Ditto Denise about the heavenly effect of the aroma of coffee first thing in the morning. (Only to be challenged by fresh bread in the oven)

    I remember kopi tiam was always served sooo hot I had to wait a while til it cooled down a little otherwise it singed the tongue. I also remember older folk wisely pouring the steaming hot kopi into the accompanying saucers and delicately slurping on it. MacGyver would have approved of this cooling method.
    I prefer kopi see too. Like cappuccino as opposed to expresso. Starbucks is expensive here too and I rarely go there unless someone belanjars me LOL. Kopi tiam/see are indeed coveted Singapore specialities. Cheers Denise!

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  8. Hi Jean! Oh yes, gimme my coffee please, before you even ask me my name, first thing in the morning! Hmm..... I remember the old slurping from the saucer rim trick. You really don't see it done much these days, but its amazing how effective and quick a cooling method it is. Starbucks??! *pfft* I only go there when someone throws five bucks my way ;) At their prices, I have to wait for treats too LOL So, I use my coffee maker, A LOT!!!

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  9. COFFEE...KOPI...KAAPI .

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  10. You have a way with words, my dear. I just love how you describe kopi see - it sounds like the perfect coffee, one I would eagerly slurp with gusto. I have long since sworn off Starbucks - it's too brash for me these days. I must try what you have offered here!

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  11. We have just visited Singapore and loved it! On one of the days we had breakfast in a very busy, simple, and cheap local cafeteria, and the coffeee was just like that: thick almost to stickyness, no nuanced, all about texture, extremely hot, and served out of big long-spouted metal pitches with huge amounts of canned evaporated milk. I loved it! I like Italian and other European sophisticated coffees, but I loved this one as well, maybe even more. Now I know what it is called and can try making it at home! Thanks a lot. Your blog has been long bookmarked, and I have always loved reading your posts, but now when I have been to Singapore they have a new meaning.

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