South Korea / Recipes

A Dive into Korea's Creamy Dalgona Coffee

Patricia Sá

Published on
A Dive into Korea's Creamy Dalgona Coffee

If your daily routine has now gone through a total makeover from being outside to staying indoors, you've probably found yourself spending more time on social media than ever before—well, except for the time when you had that one amazing vacation that made you want to post everything. Whether you've scrolled through Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok, you’ve probably already come across something known as the dalgona coffee challenge. I know I have. A frothy, rich coffee cream topping a cold (or warm) glass of milk. Yes, it's that simple. Besides being extremely photogenic, this drink only requires a handful of ingredients that you're sure to have in your pantry.

But, what exactly are these simple ingredients and why haven't I thought of making this delicious treat before? Essentially, dalgona coffee is whipped coffee. Get some instant coffee, sugar, hot water, and milk and you’ve got yourself your own homemade dalgona coffee ready to sip alongside a book. Even if you make a large amount of whipped coffee, don’t sweat it. It can be refrigerated for a few days in an airtight container so it stays put and frothy.

Since our necessity for getting caffeinated has become limited to our homes instead of our fave coffeeshop, dalgona coffee has emerged as one of the biggest food trends of the current pandemic. This sweet beverage shares its name with a Korean version of honeycomb candy, and for many Koreans it evokes childhood memories of the sweet street food they would find near their homes. Now, it owes its newfound popularity to Korean youtubers.

Behind the scenes of dalgona

As the popularity of this drink continues to rise globally, its origins and even its name are now being questioned. Where does this coffee come from? And why is it taking over social media? There have been some different theories on this matter, from South Korean actor, Jung II-woo, to a popular YouTube channel that had its video going viral.

Dalgona–ppopgi in Korean, meaning honeycomb toffee is actually a very popular candy available in South Korea, mostly seen as a street food between the 1970s and 80s. It was first seen after the Korean War (1950-1953) when the US Army personnel gave out confectionery to the local children. Back then their parents were unable to spend money on such treats, which led to attempts at making their own version at home with what they could get. 

By mixing sugar with water, bringing it to a boil until a yellow tone is achieved, and adding baking soda, South Koreans discovered a new treat to sweeten their days. After the mixture breaks down, carbon dioxide is released and the liquidized sugar hardens, becoming the crunchy treat known as dalgona. Their usual shape resembles a large star or heart-shaped lollipop!

Traveling back to present year January, Korean actor Jung II-woo showed the world how to make the sweet drink now known as dalgona coffee during a television appearance in his own home, leading to the current challenge you can find on social media.

Dalgona coffee recipe

Servings: 1



Start by combining the instant coffee, sugar, and hot water in a mixing bowl and whisk them well. If you have a handheld mixer, whisk it on high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. It should take you about 2 to 4 minutes. If you're like me and don't have a hand mixer at home, it will take you a bit longer. I spent about 10 to 15 minutes whisking until I achieved that rich, caramel tone coffee cream and trust me, it was worth every whisk.

Fill your desired cup or mug with milk—either cold or hot—and add ice cubes to your taste. Finally, scoop out the coffee cream on top of the milk and you got your own dalgona coffee ready to go.

Tried making your own version of dalgona coffee at home? Then make sure to share your creation on social media and tag us at @skyhour for a chance to be featured on this article.

Best coffeeshops in Seoul

If making your own dalgona coffee is just not cutting it, you can always take your coffee addiction to the next level. In Seoul, it's not hard to find yourself standing in front of a coffee shop, trying to resist the urge to walk inside. For coffee lovers all around the world, this Korean capital is quite the caffeine paradise in which you can find unique establishments, quirky themes, and above all, the coffee of your dreams.

From a cartoon comic book latte, to a pink Hello Kitty hot cocoa or even a pretend vending machine that's actually the entrance to a coffee shop, you can find it all in Seoul. So  And to help you plan for your South Korean coffee-fueled itinerary, I’ve gathered some of the best coffee shops in town. 

Patricia Sá
Lisbon, Portugal
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