Singapore – Nanyang Old Coffee (BEST Kopi & Coffee Museum)

Restaurant: Nanyang Old Coffee
Cuisine: Breakfast/Lunch/Coffee/Cafe
Last visited: April 26, 2010
Location: A few locations
Chinatown, Singapore
268 South Bridge Road (End of Smith)
Price Range: $0.90 – $3 SGD – about $0.50 – $2 CAD

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 6
Additional comments:

  • Established in September 2007
  • Specializes in authentic Singaporean coffee
  • Best kopi/Singaporean coffee
  • Great for quick traditional Singaporean breakfast
  • Great for coffee break/snack
  • Husband and wife operation
  • Very casual
  • Made upon order
  • Free admission for mini coffee museum in backroom
  • Very popular for locals and tourists
  • Budget-friendly/cheap eats
  • Local Singaporean snacks available
  • Starting to franchise
  • Winner of 2009 “Promising Franchisor Award”

**Recommendations: Singaporean coffee aka “Kopi”, Kaya Butter Toast, Half Boiled Egg

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this cafe while walking aimlessly around Chinatown in Singapore. If you travel to Singapore this is not to be missed! This is the best Singaporean coffee I’ve ever had. It is authentic and traditional Singaporean coffee made upon order and it’s truly amazing.

The owner is known as the “Kopi Master”Β  – this is the art of ‘pulling’ the coffee which takes several years to learn and perfect. I’m not sure what the purpose is but he pours the kopi at an elevated level repeatedly from one long spouted pot to another.

Nanyang Old Coffee is a husband and wife operation and they are truly dedicated to the art of real Singaporean coffee. They even have a free admission mini coffee museum at the back of their store. It’s super cute, basically just a back room, and they have locals and tourists coming in just to try their famous Singaporean coffee. No joke, I would even consider franchising it in Vancouver.

If you’re looking for a traditional Singaporean breakfast or snack then come here! Coffee, kaya toast, half boiled egg or “runny eggs” is as local as you can get! The prices are incredibly cheap too – that breakfast as a set meal is $2.80 SGD which is about $1.90 CAD.

Traditional Singaporean coffee or as they call “kopi” is so different – I’m confident that this is the best place for it too.

How to order Kopi/Coffee? (From museum)

Kopi O – Coffee with sugar
Kopi – Coffee with condensed milk
Kopi C – Coffee with additional of evaporated milk
Kopi Siew Tai – Coffee less sweet
Kopi Ga Tai – Coffee more sweet

On the table:

**Kopi or Singaporean coffee – 6/6

  • Kopi (Coffee with condensed milk) $.90 SGD – about $0.50 CAD
  • Freshly roasted, ground, and brewed.
  • I don’t even drink coffee that much although I do like it. I just try to limit my caffeine intake… but this is THE BEST coffee EVER.
  • Singaporean coffee is totally different than any other coffee. This is authentic kopi made by the best.
  • Even the cup is a traditional coffee cup.Β  The green floral print and porcelain acts as insulation and keeps the coffee warmer for longer.

Those are the delicious coffee beans! I tried buying a box but they ran out of retail stock πŸ™

  • The coffee beans are Robusta and they’re toasted with sugar and butter so they have this wonderfully sweet flavour. The beans are coated in basically a caramel sugar and it’s actually their way of naturally packaging the freshness.
  • Nanyang Old Coffee also blends their beans with Arabica Beans to give it extra aromatic notes and a smooth taste.
  • It’s creamy, strong, bold, rich and the most aromatic coffee ever with a nutty and sweet flavour that’s almost like malted chocolate!
  • It is naturally sweetened but the condensed milk gives it an extra creamy richness and added sweetness. It’s the most traditional way of ordering it.

This is what I learned from a poster in the Nanyang Old Coffee mini coffee museum.

This is the wife making the Kaya Butter Toast. She’s super generous with the ingredients and she double toasts the bread. It’s the perfect recipe for the best Kaya Toast in Singapore.

**Kaya Butter Toast6/6

  • Singapore traditional coconut jam with butter toast $1.20 SGD – $0.60 CAD
  • The recipe is so simple and it’s so easy to make, but for some reason I can’t make it like SHE does!
  • This is Kaya Toast – the most traditional Singaporean breakfast or snack for locals and it’s commonly eaten with “runny eggs” or half boiled poached eggs. (This was breakfast #2 so I passed on the eggs)

  • She toasts the bread (without butter) once, spreads the toast with a thick layer of top quality Kaya (coconut jam) and puts it in the oven to toast for again.
  • She adds thin slices of butter as soon as it comes out of the toaster and just before serving. It melts perfectly and is so delicious!
  • It’s crustless and has a very crispy outside and very tender and soft inside.
  • Kaya is coconut jam and it has a wonderful flavour. It’s made with coconut milk, eggs,Β  sugar and sometimes Pandan (citrus pine herb). It’s sweet, aromatic and almost like a caramelized coconut puree paste. YUM!

In the coffee museum: A traditional coffee barista wore pants without pockets to prevent them from pocketing sales.

In the coffee museum: In the olden days they poured the coffee onto the saucer to cool it down… how polite right?! =p… I can’t even imagine doing that nowadays.

Back then if you turned the cup over on the saucer it meant you would pay the bill on another day. Coffee was a luxury item so workers could only afford to pay the bill after they received their wages.

In the coffee museum: Empty condensed milk cans were recycled as take away containers or cups. (I’d be so scared to cut my lip on that edge)



  • EnbM says:

    I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t comment.
    Sorry to contradict you, but Singapore has one of the worst ‘kaya’. (^o^)
    How they manage to screw up such a simple recipe is beyond me. (o_O)
    egg yolks + sugar + coconut milk (santan) + pandan leaves

  • Bow W. Liu says:

    I think the purpose of pouring the kopi from one pot to another is similar to decanting wine, the continued pouring from one pot to another adds air(and more oxygen) to the kopi. It’s great you celebrate humble fare with the esquisite.

  • shokutsu says:

    I love kaya butter! Would pick up a jar to take home with me on every Singapore visit – just wish it would last longer as you really have to eat it up ASAP as it doesn’t preserve long.

  • Mijune says:

    EnbM – are you sure you just didn’t try a bad kaya in Singapore?! Maybe it was just that one place you went too? I had it in Malaysia and then I had it in Singapore… and the one here was very good! What’s your recipe for it? I’d like to see if I could make it now πŸ™‚

    Bow – ohhhh see that was my guess too – but then I thought does coffee have the same quality wine does? where oxidizing it helps? I guess so! Thanks!!

    Shokutsu – Well I picked a bunch up at the grocery store (in plastic sealed jars) and I just keep them in my fridge… it’s been a couple months already and they’re still good πŸ™‚ It’s it just like jam? They last forever!

  • Tessa says:

    LOVE Kaya Toast. All your pictures are making me drool! Haha. Have you tried Ya Kun Kaya? It’s pretty good. I usually pick up a few bottles when I’m back or when someone from Singapore is heading over to Vancouver!

  • Mijune says:

    Ya Kun Kaya??! Oh my…what’s that!? I’m sad I missed it!

  • Tessa says:

    It’s one of the well known Kaya places in Singapore! You can buy the Kaya bottle from them to bring home πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    Ohhh so it’s still Kaya but just a certain brand? I wish I knew that! : ( – I ended up buying mine from Malaysia. I think the Kaya jam at Nanyang Old Coffee is home made… it’s very dark… drool I’m craving it now.

  • EnbM says:

    I have not made my own kaya since my high school days. My aunt had a cake shop, and I used to poke my nose around there a lot. πŸ˜€
    I found 2 recipes online that look interesting:

    A good double-boiled pot is a must.
    The upper pot (holding the kaya-ingredients) is slightly wider than
    the bottom pot holding the boiling water, so steam does not escape in to the upper pot.
    Stirring constantly to ensure a smooth texture
    and prevent burning by adjusting the temperature to medium.
    Secret: use entirely yolks, no whites. πŸ˜‰

  • Mijune says:

    Mmm that sounds so deliciously rich… I have never considered making my own Kaya until now! Thanks for the recipes!

  • Bob says:

    Yes, Ya Kun is a famous kopitiam. Many branches around Singapore these days.

    Killiney Kopitiam (n Killiney Road) is also great and super famous, but more earthy/less polished.

  • Mijune says:

    I wish I knew about Killiney Kopitiam before! Now I have reason to go back… lol a 10+ hour flight just for coffee… πŸ™‚

  • Allegra says:

    EnbM, if you had bad kaya just from one shop in Singapore, don’t tar the whole country! Singapore has lovely kaya.

  • Mijune says:

    @Allegra – thanks for stopping by! My comment was similar to yours, but let’s hope EnbM will have a good experience once day . He/She is so lucky to have his/her aunt’s homemade kaya though πŸ™‚

  • kopi_noob says:

    hi, what are those beside the empty cans? i supposed those are what they use for straining kopi?

  • Terry says:

    Dear MiJUNE,

    Thanks for your recommendation to Singapore Nanyang Coffee.. I think you should also try TongYa Coffeeshop the next time. The outlook may be a bit rundown but the coffee served is one of the top in my list. Enjoy your Nanyang coffee…

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