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Kopi Photography

This has become a sort of ongoing mission of mine, fueled by my fascination and love for local cultures and cuisines, to find and eat the ultimate kopi and kaya toast. After moving to Singapore a year ago, I became fascinated by the unique local art of coffee brewing with a sock. I became enamoured by the passion the locals felt towards this technique. It had been a long time since I met anyone outside of Japan who could express such a fiery passion for perfecting something so simple.

I could not just take a passing photo of this. To the casual onlooker this is just a glass mug and a simple plate of toast. To me, this is a complex dish with a very unique history that is firmly ingrained in the local culture. I have to make this look epic. So it has become not just a challenge of finding the ultimate “kopi toast”, meaning a cup of sock-brewed coffee and kaya(coconut jam) toast, but a challenge of photographing it to look magnificent. I can’t make a claim yet to any breakthroughs in technique or processing, but I have been leaning more on my 35mm F1.4 ais for it’s close-range capability and it’s characteristic out-of-focus rendering which generally produces results which I find pleasing. For this particular shot, I am using aperture priority and F1.4, I know the old 35mm F1.4 ais has a particularly strong sweet spot at the dead center, and vignettes quite a bit, and I find this to be the right set of quirks to make the shot. I just need to keep practicing and searching till I get it. It also helps to choose either the oldest, most colorful, cracked and worn out tables, or the tables with the black surface. The old busted and colorful tables really help frame the more neutral colors of the coffee within the transparent glasses. The black and dark surface tables are great if it’s a sunny, cloudless day, as it will catch a bit of the color of the sky and make a nice deep, dark blue tone surrounding the warm, brown tones of the coffee and toast on the table.

Have a look at the current set here.