Retail in Asia

In Sectors

Who really owns the word “kopitiam”?

People from Sumatra, Singapore or Malaysia may raise their eyebrows after hearing that an Indonesian restaurateur has the intellectual rights to the word kopitiam.

Kopitiam, a generic word for a coffee stall, is a legacy of the Peranakan Cina, or Chinese who migrated to Malay-speaking lands.

In terms of gourmands, the word is a portmanteau of kopi, which means coffee in Malay, and tiam, which is Hokkien Chinese for shop or stall.