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Kopi Sanger Recipe: Sweet Southeast Asian Coffee

Kopi sanger is a regional specialty from Southeast Asia featuring coffee and creamy condensed milk. It’s a close cousin to Ipoh white coffee but with a few perks all its own. This recipe will teach you how to make kopi sanger at home. And be sure to read through our “Pro Tips” section to learn a great way to create a little froth without a frother.

What You’ll Need

  • 4.5 ounces of brewed dark-roast coffee (or traditional homemade kopi)
  • 1 tsp simple syrup, or to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee, or to taste
  • 1.5 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • Two 6-ounce mugs
  • A fine-mesh sieve (optional)

At A Glance

Brew time:

5 – 10 minutes

Yield:

6 ounces of kopi sanger

A Few Notes:

  • Kopi is the Malaysian word for coffee, but in this regional variant, it’s double-roasted with butter, sugar, and sesame seeds to impart more sweetness and caramelized flavor to the cup. Here, we’ve used a simple syrup and ghee to mimic the dark, caramel, buttery flavors of traditional kopi.
  • For the ultimate authenticity, look for a robusta coffee or a robusta-arabica blend.
How to make kopi sanger

How to Make Kopi Sanger

Kopi sanger is a quick and easy way to bring the southeast Asian kopitiam or coffee shop into your home, wherever you are in the world.

1. Prep Your Mug

Place 1.5 ounces of sweetened condensed milk in a 6-ounce coffee mug.

2. Make the Kopi

In a separate coffee mug, mix the brewed coffee, simple syrup, and ghee. Start with a teaspoon of ghee and syrup, adding more until you balance the sugar’s caramelized sweetness and the nuttiness of the clarified butter.

Pro Tip: To make a simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and heat while stirring until the sugar dissolves.

3. Assemble and Hand Pull Your Kopi Sanger

Now, pour 4.5 ounces of your brewed coffee or kopi into the mug with sweetened condensed milk. 

Without stirring, carefully pour this mixture back into the first 6-ounce mug. Gently pour this mixture back and forth between the two mugs for at least six times to achieve the most creaminess and frothiness. Your pour should be a slow, steady stream, not a quick pour.

For a great visual demonstration of this technique, check out this barista’s showmanship here:

Caution: This mixture will be very hot, so pour over a large bowl or sink until you’ve gotten the hang of this technique.

Pro Tip: You can pour between two jugs with spouts to make it easier to pour, then just finish by pouring into a coffee mug for serving. You can hand pull your coffee through a very fine mesh sieve for an even creamier texture. And for even more frothiness, try increasing the distance between your pour.

4. Enjoy

After six pours, you’re finally ready to enjoy that kopi sanger. Transfer your hand-pulled kopi sanger into a 6-ounce serving mug and enjoy.

For even more coffee drinks from around the world, check out our list of coffee drinks. If you’re loving the Southeast Asian flavors in particular, you’ll love the following:

Final Thoughts

Kopi sanger is a delicious way to experience part of the southeast Asian coffee tradition. Plus, hand-pulling your coffee is a great way to create the creaminess and frothiness of a latte with tools that you already have at home – not to mention a great way to impress anyone who might be watching!

FAQ

The difference between kopi sanger and Ipoh white coffee is in the ratio of coffee to sweetened condensed milk. Kopi sanger has more sweetened condensed milk, while Ipoh white coffee has less. Moreover, the latter is a very regional traditional coffee drink, but the former is found throughout all parts of southeast Asia.

You can use instant coffee. As with Ipoh white coffee and other drinks from the region, stick to darker roasts to mimic the boldness of southeast Asian coffee drinks.

You can make a vegan kopi sanger by substituting sweetened condensed milk with sweetened coconut or any non-dairy milk. However, if you’re looking for a creamier texture, you can try sweetened oat milk.

  1. Carlson, Jen. (2016, June 6). Video: Malaysian Coffee Is Hand-Pulled & Roasted With Fat At Canal Street’s Kopitiam. Gothamist. https://gothamist.com/food/video-malaysian-coffee-is-hand-pulled-roasted-with-fat-at-canal-streets-kopitiam
  2. Gothamist. (2016). Malaysian Hand-Pulled Coffee At Kopitiam [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc3hTRdXHcA
Iris M. Pang
One of my first childhood memories of coffee was in Montreal, Quebec. Every time my family and I walked through the mall, the aroma of fresh, brewed coffee and Belgian waffles permeated all the stores. Whatever that delicious smell was, I had to have it. And the rest is history. When I'm not writing or touring local coffee shops, you'll find me on social media, trying out different ethnic cuisine at local restaurants, and having deep discussions over coffee and pastries.

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