I Made Whipped Coffee for the First Time and Here’s What Happened

It seemed to come out of thin air, but in a matter of days, a three-ingredient whipped coffee drink (aka Dalgona coffee) hailing from Southeast Asia has gone from an unheard-of regional favorite to a viral social media sensation. After gaining popularity on TikTok, it quickly spread across all platforms from Instagram to YouTube—there was no escaping it. I had no choice but to try this coffee craze out for myself!

How to Make Whipped Coffee
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup whole milk
Combine instant coffee, sugar and hot water in a bowl. Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat for 2-5 minutes until mixture has lightened in color and holds a soft peak. Pour milk into a glass and top with coffee mixture. Stir to combine.

Initial Thoughts
The main question I had before starting was how on Earth do instant coffee, sugar and water whisk into a thick whipped-cream like consistency? I’d only ever whipped egg whites and heavy cream but never coffee. I thought I’d have to whisk for ages to get it to thicken, and I worried that my nonexistent upper body strength would make it impossible. There was only one way to find out.

Whipping the Coffee
To my surprise, the mixture started to thicken and change color after only a minute or two of whisking! It turns out that instant coffee has a preservative in it called xanthan gum that helps stabilize the coffee when whipped—giving it that airy, frothy texture. This is also the reason why this recipe only works with instant coffee powder, not finely ground espresso or regular coffee.

Adding the Milk
Once the mixture was thick enough to hold a soft peak (here’s what soft peaks look like), I poured my milk into a glass. I’ve seen some people pour their milk over ice, but I wanted to try it au naturel first and skipped this step. I spooned the coffee mixture over my milk, snapped the obligatory Instagram picture, and took a sip. My mustache of coffee cream made me realize that I should probably stir before drinking so I grabbed a spoon, gave it a good mix, and tried again.

The Outcome
Wow, this was good! It was strong like espresso yet creamy and frothy like a latte. It had just the right amount of sweetness to offset the coffee’s bitterness without making it too sweet—like drinking coffee-flavored cream. In fact, I have since made it every day this week. I think it’s safe to say I have officially joined the Dalgona Coffee Fan Club. Just one word to the wise: Don’t drink it in three big gulps like me or you’ll be bouncing off the walls for the rest of the afternoon!