Asian Flavors,  Baking Recipes,  Bread-making,  Experiments & experiences,  Yeasted breads

Coffee buns, kopi roti, kopi buns


It confuses me sometimes when people call this as Mexican Coffee Buns. I believe this bread originated mostly from Singapore (or is it Malaysia?) because many of my Singaporean acquaintances who know that I bake always ask if I have made these before. My favourite coffee bun bakeshop, Roti Mum, originated from Singapore as well. I call these buns mostly kopi roti or simply coffee bun (or kopi bun to conjugate), but I’ve never known them as rotiboy (which is actually the name of a popular Malaysian bakery selling these buns) until I begun looking for recipes on the Internet.

You learn something new everyday here in the world of food blogging.

I have a rather odd relationship with coffee bun-making. I’ve made it thrice already, and this last time had been my most successful batch of them all. I had used a different recipe for my first batch, and the best thing about that was the fragrance; the worse was the sinking dome of the bun the moment I pulled it out of the oven. The second time, I had used this recipe I’m sharing today, but the buns also sunk down the longer they stayed out in the open. Both times though, the flat roti ended up being delicious anyway. I even invented a new name for them (Coffee Flat Breads) when I brought them to a family gathering, but I’m almost certain no one even recalls the name, not especially my little cousins who ate every last piece, leaving only crumbs for the grumbling adults.

Despite this, my frustration did not go away. Neither of my attempts came even close in appearance to the gorgeously brown fat, round buns from Roti Mum, which I was aspiring to recreate at home. It seemed like such an impossible task after two discouraging attempts. I was also rather uncomfortable once again by the amount of butter used to make these buns, and so I did not try again for a long while.

One day a craving hit me. Rather than run out to the store, I decided it might finally be the time to try this again. I am a bit of a believer in ‘third time’s the charm‘, and it worked its magic in the end. I still have some ways to go before I can completely replicate the Roti Mum bun, but at least I’m improving!

I made some changes to the procedure this time around. First, I did not crowd my baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space at least between each piece of dough to allow more circulation of air and more room for the buns to expand. I also opted to bake one sheet at a time, not taking out the buns even to rotate the sheets for fear that the tops will sink the moment they are moved.

To get the lovely even crust compared to the odd-looking spirally one I previously made, make sure to pipe the coffee topping in swirls that are close together, even touching, so that they can melt into each other evenly when exposed to the oven’s heat. Use the best instant coffee you can get your hands on.

Most importantly, do remember to enjoy the buttery-coffeeness (what a word) of these buns.


Coffee Buns

Buttery buns with a light taste of coffee, its heavenly scent will have your mouth watering from miles away.


For the Buns

  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 80 grams caster sugar
  • 9 grams salt
  • 20 grams low-fat milk powder, optional
  • 10 grams instant dry yeast
  • 280 mL water
  • 1 large egg
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the coffee topping

  • 200 grams unsalted butter
  • 150 grams powdered sugar, sieved
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200 grams cake flour, not self-raising
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee, mixed with 2 Tablespoons hot water (or 3 Tablespoons espresso)
  • 1 Tablespoon coffee liqueur or coffee essence, optional

For the filling

  • 100 grams butter, salted or unsalted


To make the bread

  • 1. Add all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them thoroughly with a spatula. In a measuring glass, whisk together water and egg.
  • 2. Attach the dough hook onto the mixer and switch the machine on. Gradually add the water-and-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, kneading on medium speed for about 10 minutes.
  • 3. Slowly add in butter and continue kneading until you get a shiny and elastic dough that stretches without breaking.
  • 4.Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave to proof for about 40 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping

  • 5. Beat butter and sugar, either by hand or using a mixer, in medium speed until pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.*
  • 6. On low speed, add in the flour, the coffee mixture (or espresso) and liqueur. Mix until smooth and combined. Set aside.
  • To make the buns

    • 7. Prepare two half-sheet pans and grease or line with baking paper. Once the dough has risen, punch down the dough to release some air and move to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 pieces of 25-gram balls.
    • 8. Roll each ball out in to a small circle and place about 1 teaspoon of butter into the center of each bun. Wrap it up like you would a dumpling, smoothing out the ball and setting it seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the dough and butter, placing the buns at least an inch apart on the baking sheet. You may or may not end up using all the butter.
    • 9. Leave the ready buns to proof for about 45 minutes or until double in size. About ten minutes toward the end of the proofing time, preheat oven to 420°F (215°C).
    • 10. Once the buns have risen, place the coffee topping into a pipping bag or ziplock bag and snip off the corner to make a small opening. Starting from the middle of the bun's surface, pipe out the topping in concentric circles, keeping each circle close to the one before it.**
    • 11. Bake at 420°F (215°C) for about 18 minutes, or until the coffee topping darkens and forms a soft crust on the bun and the bottoms are slightly browned and firm.
    • Storage: The buns can be kept at room temperature for about three days. Pop in the toaster before eating as it is best enjoyed hot.


    * If the mixture curdles, do not worry. Once you add the flour and the coffee, it will smooth out.
    ** To get a lovely even brown top, make sure to pipe the coffee topping in swirls that are close together, even touching, so that they can melt into each other evenly when exposed to the oven's heat.
    Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
    Even though the buns aren’t perfect, I feel really proud of myself for the results the third time. I also enjoyed taking all the process photos so much, so I hope you all have as much fun making and eating these if you do decide to try the recipe. I couldn’t resist sneaking in another photo down here:

    And of course, the obligatory crumb shots:

    Gorgeous. Reminds me a bit of brioche, filled with butter, covered with coffee… Dreamy.


    • Yii-Huei

      These look amazing! I’m planning to make these sometime soon (My hometown is KL in Malaysia, and I can never get sick of the smell of those buns!), and I have seen a couple of recipes that use milk powder or whole milk. Your recipe says optional? What would recommend? Without the milk powder or with?

      • Clarisse Shaina

        In all the recipes I’ve tried with powdered milk as optional, I’ve always added it. I can’t comment as to the difference between having it or not, though adding it wouldn’t hurt. I say, go all out! 😉

    • Megan

      OMG – tried these for the first time in the CA Bay Area … then went down to LA, figuring they would be everywhere, and WAS SORELY MISTAKEN. Until they catch on in my hometown, your recipe may be what saves me and my husband 🙂 Thanks!!

      • Cla Panuelos

        Aww I hope you enjoy this recipe! These buns are truly addictive especially if you are a coffee lover. Just a whiff is all it takes! They’ve become rather popular here but I’m thinking maybe they’re available in your area where the Singaporean/Malaysian food places are located?

        • Megan

          Hi Cia, I would have thought so too, but was surprised that even in San Gabriel Valley, nothing. I did find a place in Pasadena, eventually 🙂 It just really surprised me that with such a massive Asian population, roti buns were not on every street corner.

          I can’t wait to give your recipe a try, I think this weekend, when I have time – will let you know how it goes! Thanks again for posting the recipe. It’s fun to share 🙂

    • Quenya

      I sometimes go to asian market for grocery shopping like hmart and the ne mega mart and they both have a bakery I buy about 1-4 of these buns and hide in my room all day munching on them. they go perfectly with a yogurt (i always have raspberry with mine) or I have ice cold water with it. thank you for this recipe now I can mass produce them all day ^_^ such a yummy winter snack

    • tin

      hello, i tried this recipe and somehow it becomes unmanageable for me to work with the dough since its too sticky and wet? like a brioche.. and your photos is quite different from mine. do you know what the problems might be? i measured everything first then followed the instructions carefully and added softened butter last.. i tried your ensaymada recipe and this what happens too. looking forward for your help thanks cla!!!

      • Clarisse

        Hmm.. Can you tell me what kind of weather you had when you made these? Sometimes when the kitchen is hot or damp it can also affect the dough’s texture and you need to adjust the water or the flour accordingly. If the dough is too sticky and wet you need to cut the amount of water.

        • Clarisse

          That’s weird because my kitchen is warm too. Let me try to help you, Tin. Try cutting out about 1/4 cup of the water you add into the dough to make it less wet. And then as you knead, if the dough is still too sticky, add more flour (maybe about 1 tablespoon at a time) until you get a nice smooth texture.

          The dough should still be damp and not dry or too hard because your bread will become too tough once baked. Remember also that you will still roll this on a floured surface so don’t go overboard with the flour. Aim for that smooth but supple texture.

          Just ask me again if something’s unclear or if you need me to help you further. 🙂

    • Mia

      Hello cia! Thank you for sharing your kopi roti recipe. I want to give it a try but unfortunately i dont have a standing mixer. Can I ask you what is the other method to make the buns?

      Thank you!

      • Clarisse

        Hi Mia!

        Sure you can make the buns by hand but it will take some time and muscle. First mix your dry ingredients in a bowl then slowly stir in the wet ingredients using a spatula or wooden spoon until it comes together in a shaggy mass and the liquid has been absorbed. And then turn it out on a lightly floured surface and begin kneading in the butter, then just knead until the dough is smooth. 🙂

    • Mia

      Hello ate Cla!
      Hope your doing great! I made the Coffee Roti they came out good. But I think the frosting hinde sila dumikit dun san buns lahat nahulog sa baba. Hmmm! Ano kaya naging problem ate.

      How can i send the photos sayo ate?

      Thank you!

    • Alejandro

      I had these at a little coffee shop in Sydney Australia. They were so amazing , I am glad I found your recipe. Now I can have them here in the USA. There is no place in Las Vegas Nevada USA that makes them.

      • Clarisse

        Hi Mira! Gosh I can’t remember what it was exactly but I suggest using your favourite strong instant coffee powder (as in the one where you just add hot water in a mug and not brew).

    • Ekasari

      I’ve just made one and is patiently waiting for the bun to proof now!
      I am not very sure, but I think the bun has too much liquid?

    • Toula

      I tried making it but the dough tend to be sticky ???and it dosent rise in one hr too
      So what kind of yeast and flour is the best for getting the same result ?

      • Clarisse

        Hi there! You could try lessening the amount of water as you make the dough if it’s too sticky and doesn’t come together. What kind of yeast did you use for this? I recommend instant yeast since it doesn’t need to be activated in warm water.

    • caseues

      I was looking for easy coffee bun recipe and I came across your blog. I tried this today, but I used bread maker to make the dough, ‘coz I’m lazy, lol. And it turned out very nice, and fluffy and sooo full of flavour. The dough did came out really sticky, but it still gave me a good rise and it did not drop. Thanks for this and keep the recipes coming 🙂

    • Philip Hedges

      These were great! Someone brought some in to work and I had never heard of them before so I decided to bake them. Great recipe, great pictures. One thing I found is that where it says “Divide dough into 16 pieces of 25-gram balls.” I had a lot of dough left. To use up the dough with only 16 balls I had to use 60-gram balls since I had ~960 grams of dough after following the recipe. Those ended being about the size of the ones I got at work.

      • Clarisse

        Hi Philip, thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to revisit this recipe again to check the measurements. They did come out a bit small if I remember correctly. Glad you enjoyed them! 🙂

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