About Project KAT (KOPI & TEH)
Hi! My name is Sing Tat and I lead a software company, Maven Technologies Pte. Ltd., in sunny Singapore. The idea for this Kickstarter project came about when I was at a local coffeeshop. Apparently, a patron has forgot his friend’s order and he had to walk about 10m away to confirm it with him. That got me thinking about 2 things:
- Does he not have a phone? Okay, not the point here..
- Is there an easier way to remember the order?
Being a local, I know the typical coffee and tea order in Singapore can be somewhat rocket science. How science? The simple task of ordering local coffee and tea here involves the use of these possible languages: Malay, Hokkien Dialect, Hainanese Dialect, Hock Chew Dialect. How rocket? The fact that they could come together and is understood by the local community is nothing short of fascinating!
Being trained in engineering, obviously the next logical step I took was to quantify the possibilities of an order. Identifying the possible combinations of local coffee and tea is not too difficult. What is original here is designing a binary numbering system to systematically explore all the combinations.
The result? A whopping 240 combinations of coffee and tea you can order in a typical coffeeshop! Just a disclaimer: There are a handful of possibilities not covered by this numbering system (see Annex at the bottom). I had to drop some details to prevent it from getting too complex.
With this system, each KOPI or TEH order is represented by a unique number from 0 to 255. For example, the following numbers represent these orders:
- 0 - KOPI
- 32 - KOPI O
- 64 - KOPI C
- 128 - TEH
- 160 - TEH O
- 192 - TEH C
You can try this interactive tool to get a feel of how it works. Go to https://maventechnologies.com.sg/project-kopi-and-teh, under Category tab, change any of the 5 components (i.e. Base, Milk, Ice, Strength, Sweetness) to compute the number and order.
If you are keen to find out the details of how these numbers are derived, please see the Annex (bottom of page) or this post. No worries if it looks too complex. Just know that every number refers to a unique order; there is no duplication or ambiguity.
Honestly, in the process of this mini-research, I have come to appreciate more of our local culture and I do think we have something intriguing and amazing to share amongst ourselves and also to our overseas friends. Hence, I hope to produce these T-shirts to help promote a little bit of our local KOPI and TEH culture. To conclude, here’s how this project might help:
- you are a tourist and you would like to try our local coffee or tea but you are not sure how to do it and you do not want to hog the queue. Just point to the local version of your order at the front of your T-shirt for a start.
- you are treating your colleagues to drinks. Remembering 202 is slightly easier than “TEH C GAO SIEW-DAI”, I think.
- you forgot what your friend ordered so you can now look over to see the number on his/her T-shirt. Come on, who needs a phone for that?
I suppose there could be some other reactions when you wear this T-shirt?
Appreciate it if you could support this project and in the process, show the world your favourite drink. Mine is 194.
Hey, it will make a great gift as well :)
There are currently 2 T-shirt colours: Black or White. The material is cotton and the design on the back is the decoding table in English. The design in the front and the binary bits at the back depends on the drink you choose. You can choose one of these 8 rewards:
1. Simple Order (plain KOPI or TEH)
- Classic White T - KOPI
- Classic White T - TEH
- Stylish Black T - KOPI
- Stylish Black T - TEH
2. Complex Order (Anything not plain KOPI or TEH)
- Classic White T (Hot)
- Stylish Black T (Hot)
- Classic White T - Cold
- Stylish Black T - Cold
Here are the details.
1. Simple Order (plain KOPI or TEH)
For a simple order, the designs are shown here.
2. Complex Order
Anything that is not plain KOPI or TEH falls under a complex order. You can choose any complex order from the list shown right at the bottom of this page. As an example, consider TEH C GAO SIEW-DAI, with the design shown here.
Since the logo of a cup with a saucer is not quite suitable for Ice (PENG) drinks, I have added a new design. Consider TEH PENG, shown here.
You can find more designs in the video and here.
If the project is successful, a survey will be sent out to all backers to request for his/her T-shirt size and actual order (for complex orders only).
A word about international shipping
Shipping charges for international orders will be determined separately. I will likely use SingPost to assist in the shipping. Check out the rates under http://www.singpost.com/postage-rate. Order tracking is not provided. If you have a better alternative, do let me know. Backers are responsible for the necessary customs, duties, or taxes due upon receipt in international shipments - please check with your local customs for more information.
I am thinking of introducing more colours or adding more design elements. Hoping for an opportunity to share more.
How is money spent?
- Sample prints
- T-shirts production and customisation
1. Future project updates
2. Interactive controls
- “Full List” - show all 240 KOPI and TEH orders.
- “Number” - generate an order and its 5 components from a number.
- “Category” - generate a number/order based on 5 components.
- Future project updates
- Backstage pass to see what the KOPI and TEH friends are up to
- High resolution images (list of all orders)
Terms not covered
To prevent the numbering system from excess complexity, a handful of local terms are omitted. Some of these terms include:
- SUA (2 of the same order)
- GU-YOU (butter)
- BUA-SIO-LENG (warm; not too hot or too cold, to drink immediately)
- YUAN-YANG (mix of KOPI and TEH)
Perhaps there might be a chance to explore them in future?
The chart below show a decoding table in English for TEH (pronounced as ‘Tay’).
Basically, there are 5 components (Base, Ice, Milk, Strength, Sweetness) within an order and within each component, there are either 2 options (represented by 1 bit) or 4 options (represented by 2 bits). The local version equivalent is shown below.
If you are familiar with the local context, you will know that you need not articulate the default options listed with “—“. As an example, if you order just TEH, it is understood you want tea with:
- condensed milk
- no ice
- standard strength (between light and strong)
- standard sweetness (between less and more)
Aggregating the 8 binary bits “10000000” for TEH gives you the number 128.
The full list of orders in the numbering system is shown below.
Just a note about sweetness. Evaporated milk is not sweet so sugar is usually added to make a drink sweet. Condensed milk is sweet so sugar is usually not added. Hence, if you want something less sweet, you either add less sugar or add less condensed milk. However, you cannot remove the sweetness from condensed milk so KOPI KOSONG (coffee; condensed milk; zero sweetness) is technically not possible and thus invalid.
Risks and challenges
Unless there are production constraints, the designs of the T-shirts will be as shown above. That leaves us with 2 main tasks:
1. Production and Customisation of T-shirts
I have a few contacts to source from and I will choose the one which offers the best combo of quality and price.
I plan to use SingPost for both local and international shipping (6 - 12 working days). It is not a peak season so there should not be unexpected delays.
- (40 days)