The kopitiam: going head-to-head with the big name chains

As kopitiams have mushroomed across Singapore, they have become essential to daily life. “Kopitiam talk” is synonymous with gossip, often seen as a barometer of public opinion. Although these toast shops may not have produced a Sartre (yet), they serve as public spaces where Singaporeans from all walks of life can meet. But there’s no denying Singaporeans are fond of their Starbucks (69 shops) and McDonald’s (over 110). Kopitiams are operating in one of the world’s most competitive markets and will have to stand their ground in the face of an ever-growing fast-food sector which in 2009 was worth over €400m.

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