Where Did Dalgona Coffee Come From

Where Did Dalgona Coffee Come From

Dalgona coffee became a world trend around two years ago with the beginning of the world COVID-19 pandemic. While it was made famous in Korea by a Korean actor, the original recipe doesn't come from there but from Macau. Let’s look into its origin and why it got so famous.

What Is the Origin of Dalgona Coffee?

Dalgona coffee is a coffee originating from Asia. It became popularized in the early 2000s and has since been known for its whipped cream-like consistency. Unlike regular coffee, dalgona coffee is typically consumed with a lot of sugar and milk, making it a sweet beverage with a unique texture. Some people also add flavors such as chocolate or vanilla to enhance the coffee's taste.

Dalgona coffee is not as strong as regular coffee, making it a popular drink among people who don't enjoy the bitterness of regular coffee. It can be made using a variety of coffee beans, but typically those that are used are lighter and more acidic. The coffee is then whipped with sugar and milk, resulting in a thick and creamy beverage.

Despite being popularized in South Korea, dalgona coffee can be found in coffee shops all around the world. It's often seen as a novelty drink and is usually more expensive than regular coffee. Whether you like sweet coffee or not, dalgona coffee is definitely worth a try. It's a unique coffee that'll leave you wanting more.

How Was Dalgona Coffee Invented?

As the drink becomes more and more popular globally, its origin gets more uncertain. There are multiple cultures saying that they have their own versions meaning that dalgona coffee has been around, in one form, or another way before the social media trend.

The origin of the caffeine beverage can be most easily traced to a shipyard café, where the Korean actor, who started the trend, Jung Il Woo (The World of Silence, Cinderella and Four Knights), tried it first. The café is owned by an ex shipbuilder named Leong Kam Hon, who opened it more than 25 years ago after he had a severe work incident that nearly led to his arm being amputated. This made him consider a career change, which led to the opening of a café for shipyard workers.

Leong claims that the technique is to stir instant coffee into a frothy texture and was shown to him some time in the 2000s by a couple that attended the Macau Grand Prix. Oftentimes, the dalgona is referred to as the "400x coffee" suggesting that the brew needs to be stirred at least 400 times to get that great texture.

In 2004 the Crouching Tiger actor Chow Yun-Fat visited Leong's café and he tried to impress him by making the whipped drink. The actor loved it which led to many people visiting the café, which was going through a rough patch at the time, making the coffee be known as the "Chow Yun-Fat coffee".

According to YouTube videos and some food blogs, this type of beverage is well-known in India and has a few different names among which "Indian cappuccino" and "hand-beaten coffee". No matter the name, though, it is still the same dalgona coffee.

Why Is the Drink Called Dalgona Coffee?

The name dalgona is derived from the Korean word "dalguna" (달구나) meaning "it's sweet". Not only that but there's also a Korean honeycomb-like sweet in South Korea known as dalgona. In fact, Jung Il Woo is the reason why it became known as dalgona coffee after making whipped coffee in Macau, that reminded him of the dalgona candy.

Why Did Dalgona Whipped Coffee Become So Popular?

With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there were a few trends on Tik Tok that got very big. While bread baking was number one, dalgona coffee was the second biggest trend on the social platform.

The 'dalgona coffee' trend started when Jung mentioned it in a Korean TV show and then a video was uploaded to YouTube in February of 2020. The clip showed actor Jung Il Woo trying out a whipped cream drink in Macau. The South China Morning Post said that this particular scene caused quite an outbreak among viewers because they thought he had sweet sugar candy instead. As you can imagine people everywhere were soon shopping for ingredients and started making their own dalgona coffees and posting them on social media.

Is Dalgona the Same as Instant Coffee?

While dalgona is based on instant coffee, it is a bit more complicated than that. You start just like you do when making a cup of regular instant coffee, by mixing it with sugar and hot water. Then, comes the part that makes the coffee a dalgona. You have to whisk it for several minutes until you're left with a fluffy mixture. This is made much easier if you use a frother instead as this way you will mix the coffee with the water and sugar faster and more efficiently.

Is Dalgona Simply Whipped Coffee?

You could say that dalgona is regular whipped coffee. It doesn't require any sort of special equipment and the biggest challenge when making it is having the endurance to whisk it for long enough till you get the foamy texture.

How Strong is Dalgona?

Dalgona coffee is relatively weak as it's based on instant coffee which is not known for its high level of caffeine. It is significantly weaker than Moka pot coffee and espresso and around as strong as regular drop coffee.

If it's still too bitter for you or you don't quite like the taste, try adding some milk before you whisk it. This way you will end up with more foam and a less intense taste.

Why Does Dalgona Coffee Get So Much Foam?

As sugar and water don't generate enough foam, you need to use something else than regular coffee. This is why the recipe includes instant coffee.

Pro tip: use a cheaper brand of coffee for a better foam.The reason for that is that expensive brands are freeze-dried while cheaper are spray-dried which creates more foam. This is due to the fact that instant coffee is made by dehydrating freshly-brewed coffee and the difference between freeze-dried and spray-dried is the methods used for dehydration.

What Is The Difference Between Freeze-Dried and Spray-Dried?

Freeze-drying is the method used to make better instant coffees. It's significantly more complex and sophisticated than spray-drying as it involves deep-freezing the coffee and then putting it in a low-pressure tube so the frozen water can vaporize. This way the oils in the coffee are left intact which prevents it from foaming more.

Spray-drying is a far simpler and cheaper method to make instant coffee. Manufacturers spray the coffee into hot air, drying the grind. This way the coffee is left without its oils, letting it foam much more than freeze-dried.

Some More Questions That Might Come Up

Can You Have a Dalgona in Starbucks or Costa?

No, Starbucks doesn't sell dalgona coffee, however their Coffee at Home website has instructions on how to make a Starbucks dalgona coffee. This way you will be able to make a drink that tastes just the way you like it and is inspired by the original.

Is Dalgona Coffee Good For You?

While dalgona has the benefits of regular coffee, it is not that good for you because of the high amount of sugar that goes into it. One cup of whipped coffee has around 2 tablespoons of sugar which is a lot. The CDC says that sugars shouldn't make up for more than 10% of the daily calorie intake in adults. What this means is that if your average daily calorie intake is 2000 calories, you shouldn't get more than 200 of them from sugar.

On the other hand, it is usually made with milk, which has a lot of calcium so for this reason it has a good side.

Can You Make Keto Dalgona Coffee?

Yes, you can and it is arguably healthier than regular dalgona. The process here is virtually the same. You need to mix the instant coffee, boiling water, a bit of milk and a fruit based sweetener like Besti. Then you mix everything together by hand or with a frother and voilà!


Dalgona coffee is a Korean whipped coffee that has become famous for its unique and delicious flavor. While the coffee itself may be similar to regular coffee, the way it is whipped gives it a creamier, more indulgent texture that many people love. Dalgona coffee is also often stronger than regular coffee, making it a great choice for those who want a coffee with less of a kick.

If you’re not into these kinds of brews and you want something simpler and stronger, but still different from regular coffee, look into buying a Moka pot. The coffee that comes out of it is significantly stronger than drip coffee but it’s a lot easier to make.
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