Xueci Cheng

Associate Food Editor at Kitchen Stories


If you want to hop onto the pop culture train last minute, here are three key phenomenons: Tiger King, Animal Crossing, and Dalgona Coffee. I’ve done all three of them, no regrets at all. In fact, they’ve been positive forces on my mental health while living alone and having almost zero ‘real life’ social contact for over a month now.

Dalgona coffee is a novelty South Korean whipped coffee drink that is said to have started life on TikTok and has since gone viral. Its origin story might be disputed, but the sensation has extended to Dalgona-fied drinks and desserts, like Dalgona matcha latte, or Dalgona Tiramisu.

The coffee itself first got my attention through a Buzzfeed video. After I posted it on our slack channel, Devan tried it—and returned with positive feedback. Intrigued, I dug out a few bags of long-forgotten instant coffee and gave it my best shot. The practice was fun, but intense from all the whisking, making it a drink you (or your muscles) won’t soon forget.

The recipe is simple and uses the same volume ratio of instant coffee, sugar, and hot water. For it to foam up, some say you have to whisk 400 times. A milk frother, stand mixer or hand mixer will do. If you’re using a whisk, time yourself and see if you can beat our best—the record holder is Julie at 2 min. for now. Let us know how you go in the comments!

Try our recipe

Internet-famous frothy Dalgona coffee

Internet-famous frothy Dalgona coffee

→ Go to recipe

The look of the drink is deeply gratifying and the consistency creamy and pillowy. In terms of flavor, it tastes more like a sweet coffee-flavored drink than an actual cup of quality coffee. But for me, this is satisfyingly nostalgic, since I grew up thinking instant coffee = coffee and, yes, was blown away when I tried a Starbuck’s Frappuccino for the first time as a teenager. Just like our teenage years, Dalgona coffee is heavy on sugar, and very intense. So, maybe not for every morning.

If you’re intimidated by the amount of sugar, use egg white or aquafaba to create the cream base, which a few recipes use to make the Dalgona matcha latte. The downside is this substitution lacks the “magic” transformation. There are also options to dial up the flavor with lemon zest, chai spice, or syrup.

Diving deeper into the mechanism behind its popularity, my guess is that Dalgona coffee has both a WOW factor and FOMO effect. Is it worth the hype? How is it possible to turn 3 simple pantry ingredients into an Instagramable gem? (Star Barista James Hoffman got in depth with its science in this Youtube video). If not for quarantine, you wouldn’t usually expect so many food bloggers to suddenly be singing instant coffee’s praises.

Now really is the best time to embrace the trends. We’ve suddenly switched from, “Everyone is low on time” and “Everyone wants the space to do their own thing,” to “We have so much time and want to do the same thing to feel connected”. The Dalgona coffee craze may not be worth the hype, but so what? It got us at the right time.

I like the phrase the The Daily podcast is using to describe our activities in this remote connectedness—“alone together”—so tuning into the same questionable Netflix show, making friends with virtual animals, or getting muscle-exhaustion from a mission to master the latest food trend? In these uncertain times, if it’s keeping your spirits lifted—go for it!

Bonus track: Dalgona matcha latte

After I finished this article, I decided to reward myself with a glass of Dalgona matcha latte. Since I didn’t have fresh eggs on hand, I opened up a can of a trusty can of chickpeas to use the aquafaba within.

Here’s how it goes:
-Drain chickpeas and reserve the liquid (1 drink needs around 50ml)
-Use a hand mixer with whisk until foamy
-Add approx. 2 tsp. sugar, beat it until stiff peaks form (ideally, I didn’t)
-Sift in matcha powder and beat again to combine
-Spoon it over cold milk and take tons of photos. Enjoy!

Let us know what you think about Dalgona coffee trend, and tag us on Instagram @kitchenstories_official in your challenge!

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