Although known as Singapore's coffeeshops, these 'coffeeshops' serve tea as well as coffee. They also serve softdrinks and mineral water. They are called coffeeshops as it is ingrained in the local language. They were run mainly by Hainese owners. However, word has it that now many such shops are run by Chinese from Fuzhou.
Singapore coffeeshops serve mainly two types of beverages coffee and tea.
The tea that is served is usually red tea while the coffee is usually Indonesia coffee. Many Singaporeans drink at coffeeshops daily before going to work in the morning. The tea is sometimes tarik or pulled to give it a foamy taste. Tarik is the Malay word for pull. The tea is literally poured at high speed from one cup to another in an effort to cool it down as well as to create a foamy taste. The coffee or tea is served with a variety of local breakfast foods.
The traditional way to cook or brew the tea or coffee is over a charcoal grill. The fire is believed to cook the tea or coffee much better than an electric stove. Tea-o is tea without sugar or milk.
The following foods are popular with the tea-drinking or coffee-drinking crowds.
Firstly, the half-boiled egg is served on a wide open saucer. Then soy sauce as well as pepper flavours the egg. The egg has to be cooked at the right temperature so that it is soft and woogly and not hard. Some people slurp the egg from the saucer directly.
There is also the kaya bread. Kaya a type of Singaporean egg jam is spread on toasted bread with butter. Kaya is made from coconut milk, eggs, pandan leaves etc. In the past eggs from Vietnam were used. However when the supplies run out, chicken eggs were used instead. In the past, 'gui' leaves were also used instead of pandan leaves. Pandan leaves are tropical plants whose leaves are fragrant and gives the kaya jam a distinctive flavour. In the past, the toasted bread is grilled over a slow charcoal fire. Butter that comes in a brick form is chopped into evenly thin pieces and then layered on the bread. The thickness of the bread matters too. Many owners cut them to 16mm in thickness. The bread is then toasted over charcoal fire again until they are crisp.