A Guide To Ordering Tea and Coffee In Malaysia

Here’s a few important things you need to know to order tea and coffee like a pro in Malaysia.

Once you learn a few of the common words, ordering drinks becomes easy. Here are some of the common terms:

Kopi: Coffee
Teh: Tea
Panas: Hot
Ais: Ice

Teh Tarik - the most delicious tea ever
Teh Tarik – the most delicious tea ever

The type of drink always comes before the other details, such as the temperature. So for example, if you want a cold coffee, you order a kopi ais. If you want a hot tea, it is a teh panas. This is opposite to how we’d structure our sentences in Australia, where we’d ask for a hot tea or an ice coffee.

Teh ais – ice tea

Now that you’ve got that part, you’ll probably manage fine because most of the locals will ask you if you want it with milk and sugar. Note that when they say milk, that usually means condensed milk, which is already quite sweet. If you don’t like your coffee too sweet, just take the milk and no sugar. This is what we usually did. It’s extremely rare to get a drink with normal milk (not condensed milk). Just remember to stir your condensed milk into the coffee!

If you want to get an ice coffee takeaway, it often comes in a bag, which is really not the easiest to drink out of. Instead, we bought a thermos and either took it to them to fill up, or bought the takeaway and tipped it into our thermos to drink. Unfortunately, although we wanted to save plastic, we found that we got more coffee by getting it in the takeaway bag for some reason.

Iced coffee takeaway in a bag
Iced coffee takeaway

On some menus, you’ll see different letters after the drinks. I’ve put together a small list of what these letters mean for both tea and coffee.

  • Kopi: Coffee (generally with condensed milk)
  • Kopi O: Black coffee (no milk) with sugar
  • Kopi C: Coffee with condensed milk and sugar
  • Kopi kosong: Black coffee, no sugar (kosong is Malay for zero)
  • Kopi panas: Hot coffee
  • Kopi sejuk/Kopi ais: Iced coffee
  • Teh = Tea (generally with condensed milk)
  • Teh O = Black tea (no milk) with sugar
  • Teh C = Tea with condensed milk and sugar
  • Teh kosong = Black tea, no sugar
  • Teh panas: Hot tea
  • Teh sejuk/Teh ais: Iced tea
  • Teh Tarik: Pulled tea, this is the one with the frothy, foamy top due to being poured from one jug to another multiple times. Delicious.

Make sure you don’t leave Malaysia without trying the teh tarik. It’s the main local drink and it is awesome. Even my partner who isn’t a fan of tea really liked this drink.

Until next time, peace and good times to you all ✌

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