I was ﬁrst introduced to this espresso-based drink when I was in Singapore, at the famous Oriole’s café and roastery. The ‘Strait’ part of the name is taken from the Singapore Straits, and the seven comes from the use of seven secret ingredients to build the drink. It’s unusual to ﬁnd good cafés deviating from the conventional family of espresso drinks at risk of tampering with the nuances of their cherished product and upsetting the coffee classicists, so I was quite keen to try this one. It turned out to be delicious: fudgy, wholesome and moreish in a very guilty kind of way.
Discerning the ingredients was not all that easy however. Obviously there was coffee in there and water to brew the coffee, but there was also something milky with a sweetness and a lingering spice. I had to ask three different members of staff before I found anyone willing to even entertain the idea of sharing the secrets of the drink, but following an incognito meeting in a dark alley behind the shop, where I persuaded a nervous bartender to write the ingredients down, I left with a scrap of paper with seven scrawled words: coffee, water, milk, condensed milk, salt, pepper and sugar. No quantities, mind you – that bit I had to work out for myself.
30g/2 tablespoons condensed milk
10g (100ml/3 1⁄2 ﬂ. oz) whole/full fat milk
5g/1 teaspoon granulated sugar (or to taste)
A pinch of ﬁnely ground black pepper
A pinch of ﬁne salt
30 g/1oz espresso
1. Add the condensed milk, milk, sugar, pepper and salt to a steel jug/pitcher and stir until combined. Leave to one side while you extract the espresso. Steam the milk mixture to 65°C/150°F then pour into the espresso in your preferred fashion.
2. It should come as no surprise that this drink cries out for a sugary treat to be served alongside it. My personal preference leans towards a nice, crumbly shortbread biscuit. Do it now!