The Chinese Kopitiam

The Chinese Kopitiam is a common eatery in Malaysia. The word Kopitiam is typically a Hokkien/ Teochew word that comes from 2 words, namely Kopi and Tiam. Kopi is obviously the local word for Coffee while Tiam means shop. So put together, it means Coffee Shop. While coffee shops in the west could mean a place for drinking coffee or tea and cakes, in the Chinese community, it takes an entirely different definition.

This is where you can enjoy coffee, which in most cases are Kopi ‘O’, the local word for black coffee and toast bread. Half boiled eggs are served too while milk tea, Cham and such are also provided. However, in Kopitiams, you would usually find food as well sold by the stalls in the shop. In big cities there are usually many stalls selling all types of food like fried noodles, wan tan mee and such but in the smaller cities, usually there are lesser stalls.

If you go to a kopitiam in a small town, you will come across the ‘uncles’ who are here enjoying their Kopi ‘O’, chit-chatting, probably having a game of Chinese Chess, cards or with their pet birds. You can find them usually in the mornings or towards tea time which is around 3pm and after. This tradition is now rarely seen in the big cities like Kuala Lumpur.