To many who were born in the 50s or earlier, and maybe, stretching it a little further into the 60s, depending on the families, that cuppa of kopi-o is an important part of the day and life. In the early days, a five cent increase in the cup of kopi in the kopitiam (it seems to become a brand these days) could cause a riot. It was the energy drink for many.
A humble 20 cents kopi-o has slowly and steadily fought the resistance of the kopi-drinker. The arrival of StarBucks and the new generation Singaporeans have changed the scene forever. What is 60 cents, 70 cents and now 80 cents when a cuppa of Starbucks go into dollars? Ah, the changing taste ... a foreign taste? Storm in a kopi-cup indeed.
I remember my days when the baby would be introduced to kopi - home brewed with the sock-look-alike strainer - no sooner than it could crawl. One is lucky if one could get to drink milk from the condensed milk. The better off could have Milksmaid milk, but there were cheaper ones. The lagi atas (the better to do) could do with the famous milk powder brand of the day. There are some "lucky" babies who could get free-of-charge baby powder from NGOs like the St. Andrew Children Hospital.
Ah, and, so before we had our first tooth, we had the kopi-o (coffee black). Kopi (meaning coffee with condensed milk) was a luxury and seldom drunk at home. In the kopitiam (local coffeeshop at the corner of most streets), for 5 cents more, one could have kopi. Ah, my first kopi was possible thanks to my Grandpa who would bring us to a KopiTua (coffee stall on wheels) after his work at the chap-buay-kue-ki (Singapore River)'s lighters - the lifeline of food supply such as rice and flour from the ships moored at the outer roads (of the sea off Clifford Pier).
As I started earning, I could enjoy a kopi or kopi-see (coffee with evaporated milk, which gives a creamy taste). In many kopitiams, they would even add sugar to the already sweet condensed milk. It was a culture-clash when Europeans, used to kopi-o-kosong (black coffee without sugar), who wanted a caffeine charge in those days.
And now, as I start losing my teeth, it is beginning to be the start of kopi-o again and given the current better-than-previous life, it would be kopi-o-kosong. The good young doctor's advice. (^^)