Dalgona Coffee - the quarantine drink


Last week we took a dive into the world of Vietnamese coffee; a sweet, highly caffeinated drink that tells a story of Vietnam's French colonial history and coffee culture. Be sure to check out that blog if you haven't already.

This week we'll be taking a short trip down South and across the East China seas to South Korea, where we'll explore Dalgona coffee, possibly the world's most Instagramable coffee.

The Quarantine Coffee

Dalgona is a coffee drink that's made from whipping instant coffee, sugar, and hot water and adding it to milk. While there are other drinks that employ similar ingredients and techniques, Dalgona has the moniker of being called the 'quarantine coffee'.


What's interesting about coffee is that it can represent a snapshot of a place's history and moment in time. We touched on this with Vietnamese coffee and how it captures French colonial influences. Dalgona also captures a moment in time, a moment of the present day, rather than an era that has long passed. It's hard to tell what future historians will consider uniquely 2020, but if I had to guess, it would include short DIY videos, COVID-19 mandated quarantine, and the deep desires to travel digitally. And so Dalgona coffee is all the unique elements of 2020.

Dalgona coffee is an example of how fast cuisine, ideas and trends spread and evolve in our digital age. Although it's now known as a South Korean drink, its popularity actually started in Macau, where South Korean actor Jung Il-woo ordered the drink and claimed that it tasted like Dalgona, a type of popular Korean dessert.

Jung Il-woo

A snapshot of 2020

Trying another country's cuisine isn't new, but the chemistry of the events that followed is very indicative of 2020. On January 13th, 2020, months before COVID-19 put the world on lock down, Jung Il-woo, a South Korean actor appeared on 'Stars' Top Recipe' at Fun-Staurant and ordered a whipped coffee drink in Macau. Shortly after the episode aired, South Korea saw its first case of COVID-19 on January 20th. Almost immediately, South Korea responded with social distancing measures to contain the outbreak. This left millions of South Koreans curious to try the whipped coffee drink from Macau, but unable to due to travel restrictions.

Leading up to 2020, Do-it-yourself (DIY) videos were becoming ever more popular. While many can claim that technology and the internet is causing digital dementia in today's youth; the easy accessibility to information also paved a path for learning and independence. People became more comfortable with attempting home repairs, new recipes, and crafts, which is supported by a community of other DIYers and DIY resources.

DIY in 2020

So, what happens when you combine the popularity of a new commodity, with the restrictions on acquiring it, and the growing trend of DIY? The viral sensation of Dalgona coffee aka 'The Quarantine Coffee'.

The nutritional value of Dalgona coffee will depend heavily on the type of milk that you use. But following the recipe below, you can expect the following nutritional content:

  • Calories: 101
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Caffeine: 188mg

How is it made?

Ingredients for Dalgona

Dalgona is a simple drink that can be made with just 4 ingredients:

  • Instant coffee: 2 tablespoons
  • Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons
  • Boiling water: 2 tablespoons
  • Milk: 1 cup


  1. Add 2 tablespoons of instant coffee.

    2 tablespoons of instant coffee

  2. Add 2 tablespoons of white sugar.

    2 tablespoons of white sugar

  3. Add 2 tablespoons of boiling water.

    2 tablespoons of boiling water

  4. Whisk the ingredients using a hand mixer, stand mixer, or a whisk if you're a masochis.t

    2 tablespoons of condensed milk

  5. Stop when the mixture resembles the texture of thick whipped cream.

    3 tablespoons of ground Robusta beans

  6. Pour 1 cup of milk into a tall glass.
  7. Pour the whipped mixture on top of the milk.

    Place perforated filter on top of the grounds

  8. Post the results to Instagram or TikTok with the hashtag #dalgonacoffeechallenge.

Next time in the Coffee World Tour series, we'll be experimenting with Irish coffee and seeing if coffee mixed with whisky is conducive or a liability to 9am Zoom meetings.

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Last Update: August 13, 2020

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Charlie L.

Charlie L.

Technical writer, Honours Bachelors in History, and Ph.D in finding sweet deals and eating tasty food.

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