I Can’t Stop Ordering the ‘Fattiest Pastry in All of Europe’ From Philz

For the last several months, I’ve been ordering a pastry from Philz Coffee that I can’t actually pronounce.

I go up to the barista and say “I’d like a Kouga-mumble-mumble”. Then I point at the pastry in the display case. Most of the time I end up with what I want.

What is this unpronounceable pastry, and why do I keep ordering it?

The Fattiest Pastry in All of Europe

The mystery pastry is the Kouign-amann. The New York Times called it “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.” 

Basically, it’s a sweet, circular croissant with extra butter and sugar layered inside it. When this little pastry gets baked, the sugar on the outside caramelizes.

The result is a sweet, layered pastry with a crunchy, sweet top that you eat by peeling off pieces in crunchy layers.

The fattiest pastry in Europe!

It’s the perfect foil for a drink like the iced gingersnap, where the pastry’s sweet butterscotch notes contrast with the warm spices of the caffeine-intense drink.

I like to grab one with an iced ginger snap and eat it slowly while strolling around Lafayette, California where I live. I once ordered it because Philz was out of croissants, and now I can’t stop getting them.

A Bay Area Obsession

Apparently, I’m not alone in this obsession. The Times says that this French pastry has been making a splash throughout the Bay Area. Starter Bakery is apparently legendary for their Kouign-amann, and Thomas Keller’s venerable Bouchon Bakery has its own version.

The Philz one is infinitely more accessible, though. It’s just an app click (or a confused barista mumble) away.

Getting my Kouign-amann fix at Philz

So how do you correctly pronounce this mysterious and delicious pastry? The name comes from the Breton language, a dialect from the Brittany region of France.

The true pronunciation sounds like “queen aman”. Breton French is very different from the canonical French language. If you learned French but you still have no idea how to pronounce this pastry’s name, you’re in good company!

The good news is that you don’t need to accurately pronounce Kouign-amann in order to enjoy the “fattiest pastry in Europe.” As long as there’s a Philz near you, you just need to download the company’s app, press the right button, and start pulling away at the flaky, buttery goodness of this little treat.

An added bonus? Since most people have no idea what a Kouign-amann is, the delicious pastry is rarely sold out! Grab one the next time you go to Philz–whether you remember how to say it or not.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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