Coffee rolls are light and fluffy cinnamon rolls with a coffee-flavored twist. With a bold coffee flavor and coffee cream cheese frosting, they are every coffee lover's dream!
After years of working as a pastry chef, I have perfected milk bread-style homemade cinnamon rolls. These coffee rolls have the same incredibly fluffy and super soft texture as my super popular strawberry cinnamon rolls but with a strong coffee flavor instead!
They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, and obviously with a morning cup of coffee!
Why We Love Coffee Rolls
- These coffee rolls have a strong coffee flavor thanks to coffee yeast dough, coffee cinnamon filling, and coffee cream cheese icing.
- This is an incredibly soft dough that's easy to work with (just like my peach cinnamon rolls) thanks to an Asian technique called "tangzhong"!
- Cinnamon buns are a perfect morning or weekend treat, brunch, or sweet treat for dessert! If you are pressed for time, try making my cinnamon roll muffins instead!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Instant coffee granules: You can also use instant espresso granules if you can find them for an even stronger flavor. I tested these coffee rolls with regular ground coffee and the texture turned out slightly gritty; I don't recommend using that!
Whole milk: This is required to give the coffee rolls structure, richness, and moisture. I don't recommend using plant-based milk because it will turn out more dry. I use whole milk in all of my cinnamon roll recipes, like my maple bacon rolls and apple cinnamon rolls.
Instant yeast: Instant yeast is preferred for this recipe, but you can also use active dry yeast. Just make sure you activate it in warm milk before using it! I prefer instant yeast for a more yeasty flavor, like in my cinnamon bun cake.
Heavy cream: Instead of milk, the frosting will use heavy cream which makes it incredibly creamy and delicious!
Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!
Before you start, line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
Step 1: Make the tangzhong. Whisk together the water and all-purpose flour and cook over medium heat, constantly whisking, until it thickens and looks like a paste-like slurry (image 1 below).
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients. In a stand mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, instant yeast, and salt until combined (image 2 below).
Step 3: Mix in the wet ingredients. Gently warm the milk and stir in the instant coffee granules, mixing until dissolved. Add the coffee milk, egg, vanilla extract, and tangzhong to the bowl (image 3 below).
Step 4: Knead the dough. Knead the dough with the dough hook attachment on low for 2-3 minutes until rough ball forms. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition (image 4 above). Then knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and tacky.
The dough should be sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Adjust the consistency with extra flour or milk if needed.
STEP 5: Shape into a ball. Using lightly buttered hands, shape the dough into a smooth round ball by pulling the sides down to the bottom center. Place the ball seam-side down in a large, lightly buttered bowl. (image 5 below).
Step 6: First rise. Cover the top with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until doubled in size (image 6 below). The time this takes will depend on how warm or cold your kitchen is!
Step 7: Cut and fill the rolls. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14x18-inch rectangle; the longest side closest to you. Spread the coffee cinnamon sugar filling, leaving a ¼ inch edge clean at the top.
Cut twelve 1 ½-inch strips, roll each strip away from you, and firmly pinch the end to seal. (image 7 above).
Step 8: Second rise. Transfer the rolls to the prepared baking pan and cover the top with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (30-60 minutes) (image 8 above).
Bake the coffee rolls until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
STEP 9: Make the coffee cream cheese frosting. Mix the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the heavy cream and instant coffee, whisking until smooth. Frost the tops of the warm coffee rolls and enjoy! (image 9 above).
Expert Baking Tips
- Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the "metric" button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
- Proof time will vary. Because all kitchens and environments can be colder or warmer than others, the time your dough will take to proof may be longer or quicker than the indicated time in the recipe!
- Seal the edges well. Once each strip is rolled up, pinch the end of the tail to the roll to seal it well. This will keep the filling from oozing out while baking!
- Use a ruler for accuracy. This will ensure you have similar-sized rolls that bake evenly.
- Leave out the coffee. Feel free to leave it out of all components for a traditional cinnamon roll flavor, or try my fruity blueberry rolls!
Storage and Freezing
Once baked, coffee rolls are best kept at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in the baking tray for up to 3 days.
You can freeze the cinnamon rolls after rolling, preferably in a baking pan, for up to one month. You will need to let them defrost in the fridge overnight and then at room temperature until doubled in size before baking.
It's possible to knead it by hand but it will require some elbow grease!
The only difference between the two rolls is the addition of coffee! These rolls are cinnamon rolls with an added coffee flavor.
I have not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour but I would love to hear how they turn out if you try it!
Definitely! Once kneaded, transfer the dough to your buttered bowl or an airtight container. You can leave it in the fridge overnight and roll it out the next day.
They do contain SOME caffeine, but not a lot per serving!
More Breakfast Recipes
If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments below, I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you're there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!
For the Tangzhong
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup water
For the Dough
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour *see notes for measuring below*
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup whole milk slightly warmed
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Tangzhong from recipe above
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter room temperature
For the Filling
- 5 tablespoon unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon instant coffee granules
For the Frosting
- 2 oz cream cheese softened
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoon heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon instant coffee granules
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the water and all-purpose flour. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is a paste-like slurry. Scrape it into a bowl and set it aside until ready to use.¼ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup water
- In a stand mixing bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt until combined.3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoon instant yeast, ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Slightly warm the milk, then stir in the instant coffee until dissolved.½ cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- Add the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and tangzhong to the bowl. Knead on low speed with the dough hook for 2 minutes until it starts to form a shaggy dough ball.1 large egg, Tangzhong, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- With the mixer running on low, add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, letting it fully incorporate into the dough before adding more.4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Once all the butter is added, continue kneading the dough for another 8-10 minutes or until the dough looks smooth and elastic.The dough should be sticking to the bottom of the bowl. If it seems too wet and is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour one tablespoon at a time. If the dough seems dry, add half a tablespoon of milk at a time.
- With lightly buttered hands, pull the sides of the dough down into the bottom center, to create a smooth round ball. Place it seam side down into a buttered bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and instant coffee until smooth.5 tablespoon unsalted butter, ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon instant coffee granules, 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 14x18 rectangle, with the long side closest to you. Then spread the coffee cinnamon filling over the dough all the way to the edges, leaving a ¼ inch edge at the top clean.
- Cut the dough into twelve, 1 ½-inch strips. Roll each strip away from you, pinching the clean end to the roll. Transfer them to the prepared baking pan and cover the top with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F/163 C.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Then remove the pan and let cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
- Combine the softened cream cheese and butter. Then mix in the powdered sugar. Once combined, whisk in the cream and instant coffee until smooth.2 oz cream cheese, 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, 4 tablespoon heavy cream, ¾ teaspoon instant coffee granules, 1 cup powdered sugar
- Spread over the coffee rolls and enjoy!