What Is Dalgona Coffee?

What is Dalgona coffee? Dalgona coffee, also known as Korean coffee, has recently become more popular as a sweet, whipped drink that is easy to make with instant coffee.

What is dalgona coffee?
Dalgona coffee is a sweet treat made with whipped coffee and milk

Hailed as “TikTok’s favorite quarantine drink,” this beverage found a place in people’s hearts during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. So, what is Dalgona coffee? Dalgona coffee is a sweet treat made with whipped coffee and milk.

Although Korea is generally not known for its coffee, Dalgona coffee took the world by storm in 2020 but has still endured as it’s tasty and easy to make. Let’s learn more about this trendy brew.

What Is Dalgona Coffee?

Dalgona coffee is a whipped mixture of instant coffee, sugar, and hot water that is poured over cold milk. You put the sugar, instant coffee, and hot water into a bowl and whip it until it becomes velvety and creates stiff peaks. Then you can add dollops of it to a glass of milk. 

Whipping coffee is not a new technique, and it is easy to make at home. You can either whip it by hand at least 400 times or use an automatic handheld mixer at high speed. You might also be interested in our explainer on can you put Yakult in coffee.

Where Is Dalgona Coffee From?

Dalgona coffee is from Korea. It’s named after the toffee candy you can find street vendors selling. The candy recently became more widely popularized thanks to the Netflix show Squid Game. 

Dalgona coffee was first featured in a Korean TV show, Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant, in January 2020 when actor Jung Il-Woo first tasted it in Macau and commented on its similarity to Dalgona candy. The other members of the show were fascinated by how instant coffee turned into something so creamy.

The candy has a thin and brittle texture and tastes similar to honeycomb toffee with a slightly smoky flavor. It typically has a shape imprinted on it, and getting the imprinted shape out in one full piece is a challenging but fun game. Many coffee shops in Korea serve Dalgona coffee with pieces of sweet candy on top to complement the drink. 

The History Of Dalgona Coffee

Dalgona candy originated in South Korea in the 1960s. The coffee drink came sometime later. It is believed to have been first made in 1997 when a tourist couple asked Macau café owner, Leong Kam Hon, to make the drink. In 2004, he began serving it to customers, and it grew popular.

Hands closeup scratch brown sugar caramel candy cookies
Dalgona candy originated in South Korea in the 1960s

It was in 2020 when the beaten coffee drink became popular on social media. After Korean coffee went viral, coffee shops worldwide put Dalgona coffee on their menus alongside classic coffee drinks like latte, espresso, or cappuccino.

Dalgona Coffee Vs. Frappe

Dalgona coffee also has a lot in common with the frappe. The frappe is an iced coffee drink made with instant coffee, water, sugar, and crushed ice. Unlike Dalgona coffee, it is all blended together to create a lighter, foamy texture with froth.

Although it has some things in common with Dalgona coffee, the frappe, also known as the Nescafé Frappé, was invented in Greece in 1957.

Whipped Coffee Ingredients

The following are the ingredients for the classic Dalgona coffee recipe:

  • Instant coffee 
  • Sugar 
  • Hot Water 
  • Milk 
  • Ice cubes

One serving requires two tablespoons of instant coffee, two tablespoons of sugar, and two tablespoons of boiling water. You can use as much milk and ice as you like.

You can use dairy milk or a plant-based alternative like almond milk or oat milk. Likewise, brown sugar or white sugar will suffice.

While you may prefer to use freshly ground coffee or another form, you may not get the same creaminess as you do with instant coffee. If you want to make two servings of stronger coffee, add another tablespoon to each ingredient to keep the ratio.

How To Make Dalgona Coffee

Making this South Korean coffee is easy. There is minimal prep time, and the total time to whip the coffee together is around ten minutes.

To make Dalgona coffee, add the instant coffee, hot water, and sugar to a bowl. Then whip it either by hand or using a handheld mixer.

Once the foam is ready, you can scrap the coffee mixture out and top it over cold or hot milk. You may also like to experiment and add your Dalgona coffee to ice cream or cakes instead.

Mixing Dalgona Coffee By Hand

If you decide to mix it by hand, you need to mix it at least 400 times with a spoon or whisk to make the mixture stiff enough to create peaks. An electric hand mixer will take about three to four minutes for a thicker whip. 

Whip the ingredients together until it turns frothy and looks like a light caramel color. Using the hand mixer, start at a lower speed and increase the speed once the coffee and sugar dissolve. You can use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides once or twice during the process to make sure everything gets mixed evenly. 

When your mixture has a velvety texture, fill a glass or cup with about three-quarters of warm or cold milk. If you want it extra cold, add ice cubes. Dollop the whipped coffee on top and enjoy it by stirring it into the milk. Then enjoy!

Making Dalgona Coffee Using A Milk Frother Or Standing Mixer

You can also use a handheld milk frother to whip it together. It takes about six minutes, but it works well if you don’t have an electric mixer on hand.

A standing mixer also works to bring the ingredients together, but it may be more difficult for the attached whisk to reach the small number of ingredients in the bowl unless you make a larger amount. 

How To Store Dalgona Coffee

To store your whipped coffee, refrigerate it in an airtight container. It will keep for about a week if you want to make more Dalgona coffee later. If you liked this article, you’ll love our guide on how to make Matcha Dalgona.

Why Is Dalgona Coffee So Popular

1. It Became A Trend At The Right Time

In the early days of the pandemic, people spent more time than ever on social media. Facebook grew by 40% and TikTok by 27%. Naturally, social media sites and video streaming services became our refuge, and everyone was itching to do something fun and productive in otherwise depressing living conditions.

From the get-go, everyone was performing dance moves, sharing funny videos, and making challenges to do at home. It created the perfect scenario for Dalgona coffee to go viral as it has an interesting name, looks and tastes delicious, and is almost effortless to make.

2. You Can Easily Make It At Home

Although whisking by hand can be tiresome, overall, Dalgona coffee is easy to make at home. You don’t need any fancy barista skills or equipment, just common household ingredients and a few minutes to spare.

A woman enjoying her homemade dalgona coffee
Dalgona coffee is easy to make at home without any fancy equipment

When making a cup of Joe at home, avoid these common mistakes to improve your coffee-making skills and elevate the quality of your beverage.

3. It Can Be A Healthy Beverage

A large composition of Dalgona coffee is milk which contains about ten essential nutrients; the most noteworthy is calcium, which helps strengthen your bones. Coffee comes next, and we all know what health benefits this ingredient can bring us.

The only hindrance is the amount of sugar you need to put in it. Some at-home baristas worked their way around this by swapping the conventional white sugar with coconut sugar.

Although it is low in calories, estimated at around 120 to 190 kcal per cup, you probably shouldn’t have more than one or two servings of Korean coffee daily. Sugar isn’t all bad; carbohydrates can give you energy, which is great if you’re active, but too much sugar can wreak havoc on your cholesterol levels.

4. Celebrities And Companies Joined In

Celebrities, influencers, and brands jumped on the Dalgona coffee bandwagon. As K-pop, K-dramas, and other Korean pop culture items are popular in the US, it’s no surprise that this trend originated from a clip of South Korean actor Jung Il Woo trying the drink at Macau’s Hon Kee Café.

World-renowned South Korean boyband BTS attempted to make the beverage, much to their followers’ excitement. Grammy award-winning singer Lizzo tried it out as well, though the results were more entertaining than appetizing.

Coffee corporations such as Starbucks and Nescafé even released how-to guides on Dalgona coffee. So, there was no escaping the hype.

5. Dalgona Coffee Existed Long Before The Pandemic

Dalgona coffee seamlessly resonated with different cultures worldwide, resulting in more people making this beverage. Dalgona coffee had been around for quite some time before it went mainstream. This beverage is a variation of “whipped coffee,” a common cup of Joe with several different names. 

It is generally known as phenti hui in India and Pakistan, though the layering of coffee and milk is reversed. It also resembles the Greek’s traditional frappe and the Vietnamese’s foamy beverage called cà phê trung or egg coffee.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.