How it’s made
In traditional style, the beans are wok-roasted with sugar, margarine and sometimes pineapple skin and maize, to a dark black brown, then ground and brewed with a sock-like cotton strainer in watering can-sized pots.
Both Killiney Kopitiam and Yakun Toast were started by Hainanese immigrants; Killiney’s roots go back to the Killiney Road shop established in 1919, and Yakun’s to 1926. According to Killiney, its coffee is made from a blend of Columbian Arabica coffee beans and Indonesian Robusta coffee beans “to create an alluring aroma and mesmerising taste”.
We watched them make a kopi-C at Yakun Toast in Parkway Parade. After heating the cup by pouring hot water into and over it, they put in evaporated milk and sugar, pour in the coffee, top it up with a little hot water and serve it with a teaspoon on the side.
Wherever you go, thick white china cups are mandatory, with or without the traditional blue-and-white pattern. If you ask for tapau (“takeaway” in Hokkien), your coffee comes in a scarily carcinogenic polystyrene cup, or, even worse, a plastic bag.