For proof that the American coffee shop tradition has lost a step, look no further than Kopitiam, a Malay-Chinese counter-service joint tucked away on Canal St in Manhattan. Kyo Pang is the queen of the kitchen here, but though her joint is technically a coffee shop (kopi is "coffee" in Malay and tiam is "shop" in Southern Chinese dialects), and the Malaysian pulled coffee is excellent, people don't come for the caffeine. They come for Pang's pulut inti.
Pulut inti is a traditional Malaysian dessert that sort of resembles a sweet coconut rice tamale. The bright-blue ball comes from the Strait of Malacca, where the Malay-Chinese Peranakan culture has thrived for centuries cooking up Baba-Nyonya cuisine. Pang is third-generation Peranakan, and with Kopitiam, she's made it her mission to preserve disappearing Baba-Nyonya dishes. Which brings us back to pulut inti.