Paparoti Cafe Malaysian Bun is My Guilty Pleasure


I stumbled across the glorious PappaRoti coffee bun almost a year ago and never told anyone.

I had stopped at the unassuming cafe tucked away in a nondescript strip mall in Farmington Hills to kill time before a late dinner nearby.

The plan was only to have a hot green tea. That week, I had desperately tried to limit my carb intake, and a hearty Italian meal was in my future. Yet as I approached the register, a pastry topped with plump buns scribbled with sweet creams and glassy honey caught my eye.

I kept it simple, pairing a cup of tea with a signature bread, no toppings, no sauces or jams. My detention was short-lived.

As soon as I took the last bite of the Signature Bun, I hit the line again ordering a box of four for the road. In the meantime, I’ve decided not to post any of the photos I took of the bun. This, I thought, was for me. It would be my hiding place, the one I wouldn’t share on social media or even with Free Press readers. It would be my happy secret place.

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The magic of PappaRoti bread is to be savored, not devoured. Mesmerized by the pastry, I noted a new observation with each bite – I patted on its crispy exterior and pulled apart the soft, flaky interior. The salty surprise of the silky, melted butter in the center made my eyes widen. The bun is a textural marvel with a dynamic balance of flavors.

The interior of the PappaRoti Signature Bun is light and fluffy with a puddle of salted butter in the center.

PappaRoti’s menu is extensive. The Signature Bun is topped with whipped cream and fruit, cotton candy, nuts, and cream cheese or served with dips and jams, like salted caramel and baby coconut. The Early Tweet bun is drizzled with honey, the sweetness balanced with a dollop of creamy ashta.

There’s an Oreo loaf topped with the chocolate cookie and a Ferrero Rocher loaf inspired by the decadent milk chocolate hazelnut round. There are also stuffed buns with a range of ice cream flavors for a take on an ice cream sandwich.

Still, nothing beats the original.

In third grade, I traded my tuna sandwiches in the cafeteria for the Malaysian roti that a friend’s mother made at home. The Signature Bun reinvents the same flaky, buttery, moist, slightly sweet flatbread in the form of a round bun armed with a crispy instant coffee coating. It’s croissant, meets donut, meets Turkish Pogača meets Mexican conchas or pan dulce. In truth, Malaysian coffee bread is all his.

Although PappaRoti has Malaysian roots, the menu items reflect a global influence. I sipped sweet cups of Karak tea and bold cups of Turkish coffee. On a recent visit, I was introduced to Horlicks, a hot drink popular around the world, but especially in Australia, India and the UK. The malted milk drink tastes a bit like hot cereal milk.

With over 450 locations around the world, I imagine Paparoti is the Tim Hortons of overseas cafes. In the United States however, Michigan became the first state to host the chain with its location in Farmington Hills. Today, there are only six cafes in the United States, three of which are based in Michigan, and a fourth is heading to Dearborn this year.

With PappaRoti franchises popping up in Metro Detroit, I thought it would be hard to keep my happy place a secret any longer.

Visit for locations in Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, East Lansing and soon west of Dearborn.


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