In the midst of the TikTok extravaganza that's flooded screens these past few months, an unexpected star has emerged. No, it's not a new dance sensation or style makeover montage — it's coffee. Well, to be fair, this is not your run-of-the-mill aesthetically pleasing latte. No, the latest culinary trend to go viral is a fluffy, cupcake-looking confection properly known as Dalgona coffee. But, what is it exactly?
The easy-on-the-eyes drink with roots in South Korea features a base layer of milk topped with a caramel-looking whipped topping. "I believe fluffy coffee went viral because, when you see the TikTok videos of it being made, it looks easy to create but also puzzling in the way that three simple ingredients transform into a cloudy, creamy mixture," says food blogger Carleigh Bodrug, who had her own Dalgona video tutorial go viral on TikTok and Facebook (over 1.3 million views collectively). "It also looks absolutely delicious, and with many people stuck at home right now unable to grab their daily Starbucks, it's a fun recipe to try out."
And while it may have seemingly just flown onto public radars in the last month or so, with YouTubers and TikTok stars alike quickly jumping on the bandwagon, to be fair, this fluffy caffeinated creation is not an entirely new concept. In fact, according to India Today, Dalgona is quite similar to the popular Indian drink known as beaten coffee. "However, the only difference is that in our version of the Dalgona, we pour milk over that mix," reads the publication's March 31 article. "In the case of Dalgona coffee, the frothy mix is added on top of iced milk to make it look Instagram-worthy."
In addition to said Insta-worthiness, another major factor in the appeal of Dalgona is its low-maintenance factor. Needing only four ingredients (which are likely already stocked in your kitchen) and taking all of two minutes to create, the drink is actually a practical substitute to your regular, brewed cup of coffee. All that is required is hot water, instant coffee, sugar, and a milk base of your choice.
Here's a quick recipe rundown: Mix together equal parts coffee, water, and sugar — 2 or 3 tablespoons each — using a standing or hand mixer until mixture is frothy and light in color. (If you don't have either type of mixer, you can combine with a wire whisk, but it will require a bit more elbow grease and effort to get the airy consistency.) Serve the whipped topping over the hot milk of your choice and you're all set.
If you don't have instant coffee on hand (or simply don't like it), there's a way to make the recipe work with your regular coffee grounds. To get the texture of instant coffee powder, pop a scoop of your regular grounds or beans into a coffee grinder and grind until there's an ultra-fine, powder-like feel to it. For good measure, work the coffee through a mesh strainer so only the smallest bits are being used for your Dalgona. Continue with the rest of the original recipe as instructed.
Now, if you want to play with this basic recipe, there's definitely wiggle room. For instance, as seen on food blog Yummy's YouTube channel, you can add some ingredients to make your Dalgona more of a dessert treat: Oreo cookie pieces as your bottom layer or a sprinkling of cinnamon or cocoa powder as a light, final topping. Another video blog, Shays Eats, made a mochaccino version of Dalgona by adding cocoa powder to the coffee mixture. If you prefer your coffee iced, simply add your whipped topping over iced, cold milk. Tea lovers are also in luck, in that there are some Dalgona-style milk tea, Thai tea, and matcha tutorials available as well.
Yes, it seems this trend is one for the masses.