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The little book of coffee
Stella, Alain.
Paris : Flammarion ; London : Thames & Hudson, 2001.
Call no.:SB269.S824
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Do you know that people used to read their fortunes in Turkish coffee grounds or that Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee? Do you also know that the Italians invented a cream-filled chocolate candy made specifically to be dissolved in coffee?  These are little nuggets of information that you can glean from this handy little book which is filled with colourful photos and everything that you wanted to know about the story of coffee.

Language of coffee
You can also learn a little about the etymology of words related to coffee. For instance, the term “cappucino” comes from “the similarity of its color to the hoods worn by Capuchin monks”. Additionally, coffee “acquired the Arabic name qahwa” from the coast of the Red Sea in Yemen and many other words derive from this term. “From Kaffee in German and cafe in French, to koffie in Dutch and caffe in Italian…”

From this fascinating little volume, we learn that in a Bedouin coffee ceremony, “an overturned cup is the way to ask for another serving” and that “shaking the cup means no more is wanted”.  This book covers many aspects of coffee culture around the world.  But what about the coffee culture in Singapore?  Singapore’s “kopitiam” and “kopi” culture is unfortunately not listed.

Kopi in Singapore
In Singapore, ordering coffee from the local coffee shops or “kopitiam” can be quite intimidating for the uninitiated. “Having coffee, “lim kopi”, is a combination of the Hokkien word for drink, “lim”, and the Malay word for coffee, “kopi” (BBC, 6 Aug 2015)  “If you are ordering your coffee or tea from your local kopitiam, always go for Kopi O kosong or Teh O kosong, as they contain no sugar” says The Straits Times (20 Feb 2016). Stumped?  Singapore Coffee Association  has a rather useful website that describes coffee in the local lingo ranging from Kopi-C to Kopi-O and more.

kopi talk singapore
Image: courtesy of Singapore Coffee Association

To gain a better understanding about local coffee, you may wish to read The Straits Times Online subscribed by the Library on a regular basis or talk to Singaporeans who know the art of ordering kopi in Singapore from Kopi-C-Kosong to Kopi Peng to Kopi-O Siew Dai.  Good luck!