There’s something about seeing things that are fluffy that makes us inexplicably happy. We see big, white clouds in the sky or a puppy with ferociously long fur and channel our inner Agnes from the Despicable series, screaming: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”
And of course, if there’s one thing that people absolutely adore, it’s got to be food that appears fluffy. Cotton candy is associated with fairs and amusement parks and overall enjoyment, and Insta-worthy food like souffle pancakes, jiggly cheesecakes and the cloud egg have all made their rightful rounds on social media.
While the world is continuing to self-isolate at home, the need for a good cup of coffee still persists. If you’ve been wanting to find the best at-home coffee recipe or simply want to find a new way to drink your beloved pick-me-up, now is probably the best time to join the DIY Coffee Club and attempt fluffy coffee.
Dalgona coffee, also known as “Tik Tok coffee” because of its popularity on the video-sharing platform, consists of three ingredients you should already have at home–instant coffee, sugar and hot water–that diligently mix into a foam before it’s layered over a cup of milk. (It doesn’t really matter what kind of milk you use since I use almond whenever I make it).
The drink got its name because of Korean actor Jung Il-woo, who tried it in Macau during an episode of Pyunstorang and saw that its color was similar to dalgona, a Korean street snack made with sugar and baking soda. The fluffy coffee itself actually has South Asian origins: As Indian netizens have pointed out, Phenti Hui coffee, or whipped coffee, has existed in the country for years.
Since the Pyunstorang episode was first aired, videos of people re-creating Dalgona coffee found their way onto YouTube as early as late February, before quickly trending on other websites such as Instagram and TikTok later on. Now, the drink has inspired countless of remixes: From Dalgona milk tea to whipped strawberry milk.
One thing that makes Dalgona coffee so reproducible is its apparent simplicity. The recipe calls for equal parts of each ingredient, so how much coffee you want is entirely up to you. This just means that if you use a teaspoon of instant coffee, you would need a teaspoon of sugar and hot water before adding them to a bowl and whisking them together. (If you don’t have a hand mixer, you’ll realize there’s a reason why Dalgona coffee is lovingly named the “400 times-stirred coffee.”)
But as it turns out, the amount of ingredients you have makes a big difference.
“The ingredients of the Dalgona coffee is not the only important aspect of the list,” Food editor Roselle Miranda wrote in an article for Yummy.ph. “Just like many baking recipes, measurements are important.”
For instance, Miranda said that having the correct amount of sugar “is important to achieve the cloudlike state that you’re aiming to achieve.” She also said that adding too much water will result in you whisking longer than you anticipate, and adding too little will result in a thicker mixture.
The type of coffee you use also matters. BBC UK attempted to make the drink with “an extremely strong espresso,” but the foam wouldn’t thicken up to a consistency that emulated what they saw in photos.
To explain the science behind this, celebrity chef Alton Brown said in a YouTube video that instant coffee or espresso is preferable because of surfactants, a substance that creates foams.
“It needs to be really, really concentrated, which is why you wanna use instant coffee or espresso,” Brown said. “Those surfactants are very, very concentrated.”
Whether you use a hand mixer or mix the coffee by hand, the results are incredibly delicious and satisfying. Is there really any other way we want our coffee now?
Featured photo courtesy of Yulia.Panova (Yulia.Panova/Shutterstock.com).