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How To Make Dalgona Coffee, The Trending Korean Drink That's Taking Social Media By Storm

It's fluffy, bittersweet and so easy to make on your own

It seems there is a new coffee trend that’s got the whole world whipped. Everyone I know and their mother has a social media story about making Dalgona coffee for merienda. It requires a mere three ingredients and defies everything that I know about the kitchen. No dairy? No egg? No emulsifiers? No chilled whipping bowls?! What is this sorcery?

Dalgona coffee is basically whipped coffee on milk. Named after a Korean candy referenced in a January 2020 episode of South Korean television show Pyunstrorang, its official introduction into the world came by way of YouTube, when a Korean user made an ASMR-style video, demonstrating the process.

 It seems India has had a similar recipe for ages. But since its debut in popular culture, it has blown up on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram as social media users caught on. 

This viral coffee trend comes to us amidst a virus threat. While the world sits in quarantine, we are a captive audience and Dalgona coffee has offered a lighthearted, productive distraction to the ennui of our new everyday. Sure, any other coffee recipe could have been introduced to the world at this time, but probably none as simultaneously and so effortlessly entertaining as Dalgona. 

The appeal of Dalgona coffee lies in the accessibility of its ingredients, the simplicity of its creation, and the pleasant feeling of its accomplishment. Everything you need to make Dalgona coffee, you can already find in your pantry right now. No fancy instruments or highbrow ingredients necessary, just a tiny stretch of patience and eagerness. The result is a silky, delicious, perfectly Instagrammable, elevated version of your everyday coffee experience, completed in all of five minutes. 

dalgona coffee is viral trend from korea 0
Dalgona coffee is viral on social media

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The basic recipe requires a 1:1:1 ratio of instant coffee powder, sugar, and some water — some specify hot, while others say warm. With an electric mixer, or a winning combination of a mighty forearm and unwavering patience (yes, it is possible!), whip up the mixture for up to three minutes, or until it forms a caramel-colored foam, or lighter, depending on the strength of your coffee. Top a glass of hot or cold milk with a couple of scoops. This is when you’d want to take your photo, because this drink is best enjoyed when the two layers are mixed. Expect velvet in a truly bittersweet taste. But it is so delicious, you’ll be done before you even finish uploading your photo to social media.

You can adjust your ratios depending on your preference. I used 2 tablespoons of coffee and 4 tablespoons of sugar (for a party of five coffee lovers, mind you), and used just enough water to combine the two. It turned out looking a little more like peanut butter than the dainty off-white cloud that Instagram offers as pegs, and the resulting taste corresponds in potency. 

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If you don’t drink coffee, or if you’d like to involve the kids in the process, you can still partake in the fun by switching out coffee for cocoa powder or chocolate powder drink. You can also try a matcha rendition, if that’s what you’re into.

Most recipes found online will instruct you to add ice to your milk before topping it with the foam. But can you have it warm? Of course! You can have it however you like. You can skip the sugar altogether: 

Or substitute with an acceptable sweetener, if you want to be keto-friendly:

Its texture will be similar, but obviously, will not be sweet. Substitute your milk with an almond (or another nut) milk or soy milk.

Another tip: Add a little coffee liqueur for a naughty twist. Or top with some Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of milk!

YouTubers attempt to explain the phenomenon of a simple coffee and sugar solution rising without the use of dairy, eggs, or emulsifiers. Foam is made of air bubbles and water. Microparticles in the instant coffee provide stability at the interface of these air bubbles, which allows for the liquid to grow into a foam. 

Whatever the science is, it is a neat little party trick for your next post-quarantine get-together, whenever that might be. But for as long as we’re all still on lockdown, parties of one should count, too. 

How would you tweak the Dalgona Coffee recipe?

Lead photo: @ddulgi_ttime