Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Just how does a food trend become Insta-famous? Photogenic recipes can instantly capture the hearts of foodies and become a social media trend... avocado toast, cookie sandwiches and sushi burritos, come to mind here. But nothing has been as ubiquitous recently as the Dalgona Coffee trend, so far the hashtag #dalgonacoffee has been used in over 390K posts on Instagram alone - and inspired countless recipes and adaptations.

We explore the history of Dalgona Coffee, also known as cloud coffee or whipped coffee, to see just how it became so popular in recent months.

The trend shares it's name with a Korean sponge toffee called Dalgona, a honeycomb type of candy.

According to VICE magazine the origin of its popularity stems from a Korean actor called Jung Il Woo, who was trying a sweet whipped coffee drink in Macau for a TV show called Stars' Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant, and likening it to the Dalgona toffee from his home country.

According to VICE the trend subsequently gained traction online, with Jung Il Woo fans trying to recreate the whipped coffee recipe, and quickly spread due to its ease, and limited ingredients necessary.

Under the hashtag #dalgonacoffeechallenge, dalgona coffee recipes began spreading on South Korean YouTuber's channels before going viral on TikTok.

Here is a graph which shows just how much the term "Dalgona Coffee" was searched over the last 12 months, with practically no activity prior to March 2020.

Others believe the recipe originated from Greece, as clever way to deal with the milk shortages caused by the debt crisis.

However many have said that the drink most closely resemble the Indian beverage known as phenti hui or "beaten coffe."

According to India Today the main difference between the two is that when making phenti hui coffee, milk is poured on top of the whipped mix rather than spooning the whipped mix on top of the milk.

So although the origins are unclear it's obvious that the popularity of Dalgona has been widespread, maybe only second to Banana Bread, during this period of isolation.

In case you want to try it out yourself here is a simple recipe adapted from the BBC:


  • 3 tbsp instant coffee

  • 3 tbsp sugar

  • 3 tbsp very hot water

  • 400m milk


1. Combine the instant coffee, sugar and hot water to a medium mixing bowl. Using an hand-held electric mixer, whisk the coffee mixture until it is light brown, fluffy and holds stiff peaks.

2. Pour the cold milk into a glass and dollop the whipped coffee mixture on top, smooth out with a spoon. Serve. (Milk can also be heated if desired.)

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