What is Dalgona Coffee?

Dalgona Coffee (also known as Whipped Coffee or Desi Cappuccino) is a coffee preparation made from whipped, sweetened instant coffee beat into a thick foam. The drink was the subject of a viral internet challenge in early 2020. The name “Dalgona”, under which it is most popularly known, comes from the Korean “달구나”, which translates roughly to “it's sweet”, and is also the name used for a honeycomb toffee snack sold by street vendors in Korea, which the sweet foam of the drink is said to recall.

Who invented Dalgona Coffee?

While the sweet street-snack Dalgona originated in Busan in the 1960s, the spike in the coffee drink's popularity is often credited to Korean actor Jung Il-woo, who consumed the drink during a mukbang in Macau on a television program called “Stars' Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant.”

The viral instant coffee phenomenon named Dalgona Coffee hit in 2020 just as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread worldwide. TikTok user @imhannahcho was one of the first—if not the first—to famously film her attempt at recreating the drink Jung consumed on the show. Her original post has been liked more than 2,000,000 times, and the #dalgonacoffeechallenge hashag on TikTok has more than 17,000,000 views. The fad was perfect fodder for millions of people trapped at home during early COVID lockdowns.

@imhannahcho

yes i hand whisked this whipped coffee for like 20 mins bc my mommy wanted to try it 👻 she loved it!! (달고나 커피) #korean #fyp #aesthetic

♬ Put your head on my shoulder cover by karlo – K a r l o

Food bloggers have pointed out that what's become called Dalgona Coffee (at least in the USA) since Jung's TV escapade is similar to a drink called Beaten Coffee, or Desi Cappuccino, which was invented in India. This drink is made from instant coffee, sugar, and water whipped into a frenzy, and served with milk—though unlike Dalgona, Desi Cappuccino is not typically layered, but instead heated milk may be poured onto the coffee mixture. Meanwhile, one United States company found themselves in hot water amid accusations of cultural appropriation for claiming to have invented a drink very, very similar to Dalgona.

How do you make Dalgona Coffee?

As they say—it's all in the wrist. Dalgona Coffee is made by mixing instant coffee (that's right, instant) with equal parts sugar and water—2 Tbsp is a good quantity of each. Whip the water, coffee, and sugar together using a whisk or hand mixer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture forms a thick, foamy froth, then serve in a layer over ice and milk. The drink will have a nice creamy head, and mix with the milk as you drink it.

How many calories are in a Dalgona Coffee?

Sources measure Dalgona Coffee as having around 300 calories per serving. For perspective, that's about three cappuccinos worth of calories!

Is Dalgona Coffee tasty?

Taste is subjective. Some folks believe the strong, bitter coffee base of the instant coffee used for Dalgona provides the perfect canvas for sugar and milk. Who could dislike something they put so much hard work into? But be warned: this drink is not for the faint of heart.

Liz Clayton is the associate editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge