Staying home in the age of social media means that the Internet now favours slightly more realistic trends that can be carried out in the comfort of our own kitchens.
Meet dalgona coffee, the viral recipe that first took social media by storm at the start of the pandemic. It takes five minutes to make (or slightly more if you don’t have an electric whisk) and requires just three ingredients (all pantry staples and easily available).
Photo credit: @hummingbirdhigh
What is dalgona coffee?
Named after the Korean candy dalgona, which has more recently become well known through a nerve-racking Squid Game challenge, dalgona coffee is arguably a latte or cappuccino in reverse. In dalgona coffee, coffee and sugar are aerated to create a cloud-like, foamy froth. This mixture is then dolloped onto milk, creating a two-layer coffee concoction – an addition to the list of Internet-popular “fluffy” foods (remember soufflé pancakes?).
The term “dalgona coffee” was virtually non-existent in Google searches before late January 2021. By February of that year, several Korean YouTubers started posting videos, and the rest, as they say, is Internet history. As of 1 March 2022, the #dalgonacoffee hashtag has been used on close to 600,000 Instagram posts and has millions of views on YouTube (this video alone has been watched over 13 million times).
Here’s how you too can make dalgona coffee from the comfort of your own home:
- 2 tbsp instant coffee (without sugar)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp hot water (needs to be hot or boiling)
- milk (hot/cold depending on how you want your final drink; the amount depends on personal preference)
- ice cubes (if you want your coffee iced – obviously)
A few things to note:
- You can substitute the ingredients depending on your preferences/dietary restrictions (e.g. switch to a plant-based milk or use brown sugar), and some Internet variations swap instant coffee for matcha powder. You can also reduce the sugar amount (you probably should – two tablespoons just about maxes out our recommended daily sugar intake), but it’s a necessary ingredient to get that fluffy, whipped structure in your coffee froth.
- An electric whisk is ideal to create the most Insta-worthy froth, but not all Hong Kong kitchens have the space (or need) for an electric whisk, so we kept it manual.
- Generally, two tablespoons of coffee, sugar and hot water should create just enough froth to top one glass of milk and ensure it looks nice enough for your social media posts.
- Put the instant coffee, sugar and hot water into a bowl.
- Whisk the mixture until it’s light and fluffy (note: if you’re whisking by hand, this might take about five minutes or more).
- Fill a glass about two-thirds of the way full with hot/cold milk, with/without ice cubes (per your preference).
- Spoon the coffee froth on the top.
- Photograph, photograph, photograph. Instagram/TikTok/YouTube.
- Enjoy your dalgona coffee!
In TikTok we trust? Let’s face it – there are a ton of random, often pointless and occasionally dangerous Internet trends that come and go. But we think dalgona coffee is here to stay.
The coffee foam tastes too bitter and sweet on its own (not surprisingly, since it consists of just coffee, sugar and water in equal parts), but mixed into milk, the final concoction tastes much better than we expected – creamy and smooth, kind of like a speciality drink we’d order at a hipster coffee joint if we weren’t social distancing once again.
Be warned though – there is much more sugar and caffeine in this deceptively light and fluffy concoction than your taste buds might tell you. We added an extra shot of black coffee to our glass because it didn’t taste strong enough on first sip, but then our hands got all jittery. That said, we’ve also been way more productive than usual from this sugar/coffee high.
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