Fluffy coffee bread: brown sugar latte rolls

Fluffy coffee-infused milk bread is rolled with sweet layers of brown sugar and cinnamon to create this wonderful treat. Enjoy one of these soft coffee bread rolls with a glass of cold milk or even more coffee.

All the Internet chatter about Dalgona coffee and all the photos on my Instagram of brown sugar milk tea had me craving a baked good that was milky and caramel-y sweet with that wonderful, rich hit of coffee. In other words, I wanted a brown sugar latte in pastry form. 

This bread is the lighter, slightly more grown up cousin to cinnamon rolls. It has lovely, fluffy layers but goes for a more subtle sweetness instead of a super sweet ooey gooey center. Milk bread is the perfect base for this sweet bread. It acts as a fluffy, creamy base that just begs be mixed with coffee. Brown sugar adds a moist, deep flavor that is lightened by a smattering of cinnamon.

Brown sugar rolls after the second proof and before going in the oven

The key to making the fluffiest rolls that will stay soft for days is using the Tangzhong method, where you heat flour, water, and milk on the stove to create a thick roux. The coffee flavor will come from mixing instant coffee and warm milk. You’ll add the roux and coffee milk to flour, eggs, yeast, salt, and sugar to create the base dough. Let it proof for about an hour, then roll out into a large rectangle. You’ll sprinkle on a layer of brown sugar and cinnamon and then roll up to create those perfect spirals. Slice into 8 even pieces, let rest for another hour,  and then bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Your house will smell like pure heaven!

Tips and tricks for perfect coffee bread rolls

  • The quickest way is to make this dough in a stand mixer, but it is definitely possible to make it by hand. To make by hand, follow the method in this post: Japanese milk bread by hand (no milk powder)
  • If this is one of your first times making enriched bread, you can check out this post for tricks on kneading and proofing: Tips and tricks for perfect enriched bread
  • The dough will be quite wet and slack and will tighten up after kneading and proofing. This is what makes the rolls super fluffy at the end. If you are struggling to handle the dough, I recommend letting it rest for 20 minutes to let the flour absorb some of the moisture.
  • To get perfectly even rolls, I measure out and mark where I want to slice before cutting. I also use a piece of floss instead of a knife to prevent squishing the dough. To use this technique, simply wrap the floss around the roll and pull the two ends in opposite directions. The floss will tighten around the roll and slice through smoothly. 
  • The amount of coffee powder you will need depends on the strength of the powder. You want to add enough to have the equivalent strength of 3 – 4 shots of espresso. I used 4 tbsp of powder.
  • Because the dough is brown, it can be trickier to tell when your rolls are browned and finished. Tap with a back of the spoon, and if you hear a hollow sound, then the rolls are complete. Be careful not to overbake as the rolls will turn out dry.
  • You can use either light or dark brown sugar for this recipe. I use dark for that extra molasses flavor.
  • I prefer not to have too much sugar in the middle, but if you like it a little sweeter, feel free to increase the amount of brown sugar filling.

Other enriched bread recipes:

If you make these brown sugar latte rolls, please let me know! You can leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway. I always love to see what everyone is baking.

Brown sugar latte rolls

Fluffy coffee-infused milk bread is rolled with sweet layers of brown sugar and cinnamon to create this wonderful treat. One of these fluffy rolls goes perfectly with a glass of cold milk or even more coffee.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Rest Time 2 hrs
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings 8 rolls


  • medium mixing bowl
  • Small skillet or pot
  • 9 in. round baking tin
  • Rolling Pin
  • stand mixer (optional)


For tangzhong (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 3 tbsp (23g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (60g) water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) whole milk

For dough

  • 1/2 cup tangzhong (see above)
  • 2 1/2 cup (325g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (7g) active dry or instant yeast
  • 1 tsp (4g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (120g) warm milk
  • 2 – 4 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil for greasing

For brown sugar cinnamon filling

  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


Make tangzhong

  • In small skillet or pot, whisk together flour, milk, and water until smooth. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened but is still pourable. It should take 5 – 10 minutes. Your whisk should leave a mark when dragged along the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make dough

  • Mix together hot water and instant coffee to make a concentrated coffee mix. Add to warm milk. Add yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. The milk and coffee mixture should feel comfortably warm to the touch, but not hot, otherwise it will kill your yeast.
  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, egg, milk and coffee mixture, and 1/2 cup of tangzhong starter in a medium mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on medium-low speed until dough comes together. Slowly add pieces of butter until fully incorporated, which could take up to 10 minutes. Continue to mix in stand mixer for ~10 – 15 minutes on medium-low speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Every few minutes, pause and do the window pane test to see if the gluten has developed. To make the dough by hand, please see notes above.
  • Lightly grease mixing bowl and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 – 60 minutes until roughly doubled in size.
  • Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and lightly grease your round baking tin. Generously flour your countertop. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on the countertop. Flour the surface of the dough and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a 15in. by 10in. rectangle. Evenly sprinkle the surface with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, making sure to spread all the way to the edges of the rectangle. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, roll into a 15in. cylinder. Cut into 8 equal slices and place in your baking tin.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Allow the rolls to proof for 45 – 60 minutes. When you press your finger into the rolls, the dough should slowly come back about halfway.
  • Place in the lower third of the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until it makes a hollow sound when tapped.
Keyword baking, bread, enriched dough, rolls, yeast

11 thoughts on “Fluffy coffee bread: brown sugar latte rolls”

  1. Hi! I’m in the mixing process (hand mixing) and I’ve been mixing for almost 30-40 min. The dough is still really shapeless, sticky, and almost too wet. It looks like cake batter. Do I need to add more flour? I’m not familiar with tangzhong so my normal cinnamon roll dough gets much firmer. I realized there’s no future kneading step after this but I’m not sure how I’ll be able to work with this dough to later roll it if it’s so shapeless!

    1. Hi Maxi! I’d go ahead and slowly fold in more flour. The dough should be pretty sticky, but should not be the consistency of cake batter. It helps to use the slap and fold method if you’re making this by hand. The dough will also continue to firm up a bit after the first rise. Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you so much Hali! So just to make sure, I should slap and fold before letting it rise for 40-60 min, right?

        1. Yes! It also helps to let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes if you find it hard to handle. This lets the gluten absorb the liquid and strengthen on its own.

          1. 5 stars
            Hi Hali! Omg! The rolls turned out amazing. It was my first time making tangzhong and your speedy response saved the day. The dough was most definitely too wet and sticky before I folded in more flour, but after I added more in, waited 20 min, and kneaded it a bit, it was manageable. It took almost 2 hours to rise but when it came out of the oven, it was perfect. Not too sweet but an amazing texture, a bit crispy on top, very soft and fluffy otherwise. So aromatic and between my husband and I, we ate 6 within 3 hours. Oops! Thanks for the recipe Hali! (Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as yours, but still wish I could upload a pic to show you!)

          2. I’m so glad it turned out well!! Thanks for letting me know the final result. My family always eats the whole pan is one day 😋 definitely going to write up an FAQ to help future readers with wet dough 😄

  2. Can I just use the recipe without 1/2cup of tang aging? Will it cause too much difference and do I need to change any ingredients if I eliminate the tang zhong?

    1. Hi Esther, this is a pretty wet dough so I think it’s okay to leave out the tangzhong. If you find that the dough is dry, you can add a little more milk.

  3. 5 stars
    I don’t think my original comment went through… But hi Hali! I tried the recipe last week and it was fantastic!
    In your opinion on do you think this a recipe that can be split between two days? I’ve seen other roll recipes that have the option to refrigerate the cut shaped rolls overnight and prove and bake in the morning. Do you think that’s possible with this?

    1. Hi Ra! Thank you for your comment!

      Yes, I think you could split over two days. Just know that depending on your fridge temperature, the rolls will likely prove in the fridge and you may need to adjust / cut down on the proof time the next day

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