What Is It and How to Make It

Some mornings call for an all-out, decadent latte with fancy chocolate curls and whipped cream. But other mornings find you craving a simple, back-to-basics cup of java.

Why not try Nanyang coffee for those mornings when the bare necessities are all you need? Here’s a guide on what it is and how to make it.

What Is Nanyang Coffee?

Nanyang coffee, or 南洋咖啡 in Chinese, refers to the traditional black coffee served in many parts of Singapore and Malaysia.

More specifically, Nanyang, transliterated as “southern sea”, refers to the Chinese provinces and countries around the coast of the South China Sea. In short, this area spans the province of Yunnan and the countries of Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, the eastern part of Malaysia, and the Philippines.

If you want to expand your palate, skim through our huge list of coffee drinks from around the world.

A Little Nanyan Coffee History

As with our Vietnamese coffee, Malaysian Ipoh white coffee, and kopi sanger recipe, this Nanyang coffee was created to suit the southeast Asian palate and culture.

The myth goes that while schmoozing with influential Western businessmen, Malaysian and Singaporean people had to drink Western coffee. Finding it too bitter, they decided to create their version of this coffee. The result was a uniquely southeastern Asian creation of double-roasted Robusta and Liberica coffee beans, some oil, sugar, and salt.

Making traditional kopi is a labor of love. Watch a mini-documentary below for an inside look at the hours of hard work that go into making Malaysian kopi.

Nanyang Kopi Recipe

If you want to try making Nanyang coffee at home, what’s the secret? First and foremost, you’ll need a good coffee grinder. According to Tanya Nanetti over at Barista Magazine (1):

…a great grinder will make even “just OK” machines perform incredibly well.

A great coffee grinder ensures all the coffee grounds in the coffee bed are uniform in size. A good, uniform grind is key to a great cup of coffee because it guarantees even extraction.

So, after you’ve got yourself a great coffee grinder, simply grind some high-quality robusta coffee beans to a medium-fine grind and brew your Nanyang coffee with a Vietnamese phin.


  • 2 tablespoons of coffee
  • Boiled water
  • Condensed milk (bought or home-made)
  • 16 ounces of whole milk
  • ¾-cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract