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Specialty Coffee vs Kopi

If you've been to or live in Singapore, you've no doubt come across our famous local coffees, Kopi. From Kopi-O to Kopi Peng, that styrofoam cup is easily recognizable across the island. But how does it compare to specialty coffee?

What is Kopi?

Kopi is actually the same as Nanyang coffee, a longstanding tradition enjoyed by Hainanese immigrants during the early Straits settlements in Singapore. The coffee involves brewing using a sock filter as it is cheap and easily accessible.

Interestingly, Kopi is actually a Malay word. Although Nanyang coffee was a Hainanese tradition, Singapore was under the Malaysian regime during the early 1900s. During that time, this tradition was then integrated into the local culture and referred to as Kopi.

As Kopi was meant to be a commodity that everybody can enjoy, the beans tend to be of a lower grade which meant higher bitterness. To counteract this, the locals roasted the coffee beans with a layer of caramelised sugar coating on the beans to increase the sweetness of the coffee. Some even roasted it together with margarine to enhance the coffee’s body.


How does specialty coffee compare?

Fast forward a couple decades to the rise of specialty coffee - Thanks to Starbucks pioneering the second wave as well as independent artisans pushing the third wave movement in the 21st century.

Specialty coffee has a narrow technical definition that refers to Arabica coffee with a cup score of 80 points and above. It is different from commercial or commodity that is graded between 60 to 80 points.

It came about from a generation of quality-conscious consumers due to their higher affluence. This enabled the proliferation of higher quality coffee that tastes distinctly different from generic coffees previously sold in supermarket chains. It gave birth to the craft of baristas, roasters and farmers alike, prompting coffee to be viewed more as a luxury item like wine rather than a commodity.

More importantly, specialty coffee fetches a significantly higher price than commodity or commercial coffees. This empowers farmers to lead higher quality of lives thanks to their higher remuneration. It also enables a sustainable ecosystem for the production of coffee which was on the brink of collapse during the 1980s.

The purpose of Compound Coffee Co. is to empower the lives of others through coffee. We research and identify the best practices in coffee throughout the entire supply chain. The knowledge and data from our research enable us to take our expertise to work with professionals throughout the supply chain to produce extraordinary coffee. This in turn helps them to command significantly higher prices and empowers the industry to take their craft and standards of living to the next level.

 Find out more about the professionals we work with here or check out their amazing coffees available for sale here.


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