The Origin of Dalgona Coffee: The Ultimate Guide

The recent global events have definitely changed many of our plans and activities. They also brought about an increase in new trends on social media. One such trend was Dalgona coffee. Dalgona coffee is essentially whipped coffee made using instant coffee, sugar, hot water, and milk. But what is the origin of Dalgona coffee?

Dalgona coffee has obvious South Korean roots.

It’s thought that it was born when Jung II-Woo tried whipped coffee in Macau (China) as he realized that the taste reminded him of the South Korean candy Dalgona

Moreover, the word ‘dalguna’ (달구나) means “it’s sweet” in Korean.

And there’s also a traditional South Korean candy called dalgona.

Below, we will explain the origin of Dalgona coffee in greater detail.

We’ll also dive into a few other questions you may have about this new coffee trend so read on!

Where Did Dalgona Coffee Come From?

Dalgona coffee was most likely born in Macau thanks to that South Korean actor.

Still, the other possible places of origin are India, Pakistan, or Greece,

And while some people debate the exact place Dalgona coffee originated from is still a matter of debate, the word Dalgona has South Korean roots.

Dalgona (dalguna (달구나)) means “it’s sweet” in Korean.

It’s thought that even India and Pakistan might be the actual origin although that’s also heavily debated.

In India and Pakistan, beaten or whipped coffee has existed for a while, whereby you take instant coffee and hot water and use it to create a frothy coffee.

Macau is perhaps the most logical and possible place of origin because it was in Macau where Jung II-Woo ordered and popularized this coffee drink.

However, in these countries, milk is poured on top of the whipped mixture, which is different from how the viral Dalgona coffee is made.

Nonetheless, this coffee called phenti hui or phitti hui coffee may have given birth to what we know as Dalgona coffee today.

There is also a coffee known as Frappe Coffee in Greece, which uses the same ingredients as Dalgona coffee.

It’s made with frothy milk and coffee that is served over crushed ice.

However, instead of a mixer, the Frappe is made using a cocktail shaker to mix the ingredients.

The Origin of Dalgona Coffee, Macau
The most likely place where Dalgona coffee was born is Macau a.k.a. Las Vegas of Asia

Who Invented Dalgona Coffee?

The term Dalgona coffee was coined by the South Korean actor Jung II-Woo after he tried whipped coffee in a Macau coffee shop owned by Leong Kam Hon.

This happened while he was shooting an episode for a the popular Korean TV show “Star’s top recipe at fun-staurant”.

But who actually created the idea of whipped coffee is still unknown.

As previously mentioned, Jung II-Woo thought the coffee tasted like the South Korean candy Dalgona, hence the name of this new coffee drink.

This was a candy created after the Korean war when US Army personnel gave sweets to children.

Since South Korean families could not afford those sweets, they made their own version called Dalgona to give to their kids.

Why Did Dalgona Coffee Become Popular?

Dalgona coffee became popular because it went viral on social media platforms, namely TikTok.

It was originally mentioned in a Korean TV show and a clip of the show was uploaded on YouTube.

Soon after, people all over the internet started making this drink and posting their videos on social media.

The Origin of Dalgona Coffee, a female hand holding a cup of Dalgona coffee

Does Starbucks Have Dalgona Coffee?

No, Starbucks does not sell Dalgona coffee.

However, the Starbucks: Coffee at Home website provides instructions on how to make a Starbucks Dalgona Whipped Coffee recipe.

The Starbucks recipe involves using Starbucks VIA Instant coffee along with milk and sugar of your choice.

With the help of this easy and neat recipe, you will be able to make a customized drink that tastes excellent and akin to the original.

All you have to do is grab your Starbucks instant coffee, some milk, sugar and hot water.

Then you just go along with the regular Dalgona coffee recipe and you’ll be in for a treat!

What is the Science Behind Dalgona Coffee?

The science behind Dalgona coffee is that sugar and water on their own do not provide sufficient foam.

And this is why instant coffee is used.

But some instant coffee brands produce more foam than others.

Note that if you use instant coffee from cheaper brands, you’ll actually make better foam than what you’ll get from the more expensive ones.

This is because expensive brands use freeze-dried coffee, while cheaper brands use spray-dried coffee.

And guess what? Spray-dried coffee creates better foam.

Instant coffee is made by dehydrating freshly-brewed coffee.

The difference between spray-dried coffee and freeze-dried coffee is the method by which they are dehydrated.

The Origin of Dalgona Coffee, spilled instant coffee

Freeze-Dried vs Spray-Dried

The difference between spray-dried coffee and freeze-dried coffee is the method by which they are dehydrated.

Freeze-dried instant coffee

Freeze-dried coffee involves deep-freezing the coffee and then putting it in a low-pressure tube so that the frozen water vaporizes.

When coffee is freeze-dried, the oils in the coffee are preserved, which prevents the coffee from foaming properly.

Spray-dried instant coffee

During the spray-dried technique, manufacturers spray the coffee into hot air, which evaporates the water.

This leaves dried coffee particles.

As a result, spray-dried coffee does not contain oils, which means that more foam is created with this kind of instant java.

And since spray-dried coffee is cheaper, less expensive brands use it.

Hence, using cheap instant coffee should lead to greater levels of foam in your Dalgona coffee.

It’s All About ‘Oil Don’t Mix With Water’

Here’s why oils tend to have a negative impact on coffee foam or crema:

  • Oil is a non-polar substance that does not have positively and negatively charged sides.
  • Polar and non-polar substances cannot interact with each other.
  • So, water, being a polar substance, does not mix with oil and hence does not form foam.

This information is supported by the Boston University, School of Public Health (1).

The Origin of Dalgona Coffee, a man and a woman drinking coffee and eating healthy foods

Is Dalgona Coffee Healthy?

Dalgona coffee is not that healthy because of the amount of sugar it has.

But how can it be unhealthy when it contains the important mineral calcium that’s found in milk?

After all, drinking milk has been linked to improved bone strength and health (2).

And since this coffee drink contains milk, people assume that Dalgona coffee is healthy.

However, Dalgona coffee contains a lot of sugar and consuming too much sugar is a major risk factor for heart disease (3).

And one cup of this whipped coffee contains 2 tablespoons of sugar that equate to around 6 teaspoons which is a massive amount.

According to the CDC, sugars should comprise less than 10% of the total daily calorie intake in adults (4).

This means that if you’re consuming 2000 calories per day, a maximum of 200 calories (10%) should come from sugar.

So, in terms of sugar intake, Dalgona coffee is not a healthy drink.

What Makes Dalgona Coffee Fluffy?

The thing that makes Dalgona coffee so fluffy is the added sugar.

When water and instant coffee are whisked together (at a ratio of 5:1), it creates foam.

However, it is the sugar that stabilizes this foam and makes the coffee so irresistibly fluffy.

Sugar dissolves in the water, making the liquid syrupy.

This stops the water from moving down and helps the bubbles move up, stabilizing the foam.

The Origin of Dalgona Coffee, a cup of Dalgona coffee next to spilled coffee beans

What Does Dalgona Coffee Taste Like?

Dalgona coffee has a very sweet and smooth taste.

However, despite the increased sweetness, this drink still retains some of the taste of caffeine.

Some people even say that it tastes like coffee ice cream.

The texture is soft and light, similar to whipped cream melted into hot chocolate.

Is Dalgona Coffee High in Caffeine?

Yes, Dalgona coffee often has more caffeine than regular brewed coffee.

The exact amount varies depending on the instant coffee brand.

Though, on average, Dalgona coffee contains 188 milligrams of caffeine.

This is more than a regular 8-ounce cup of coffee which has roughly 95 mg.

How to Drink Dalgona Coffee?

For the best taste, you should give it a nice stir before drinking it.

This will help to tone down the cream on top a bit so that you don’t end up with a variation of the milk mustache!

But even when you stir the coffee, the fluffy texture and the frothy mixture will remain due to how it’s made.

Also, drink it straight from the mug.

Using a straw will not allow you to get a proper taste of all of the layers.

^ Note that this guy uses syrup instead of sugar, which still works.

How to Make Original Dalgona Coffee?

If you’re interested in making Dalgona coffee, here’s the original recipe:


  • 2 tablespoons of instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of warm or hot water
  • 1 cup of milk


  • Mix the instant coffee, sugar, and hot water together
  • Whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy (fluffy)
    Note: This will take around 3-5 minutes (depending on whether you use an electric mixer or not)
  • Scoop the mixture on top of a glass of iced milk
  • Stir
  • Enjoy!

Can You Make Dalgona Coffee Without Sugar?

Yes, you can make Dalgona coffee without sugar, but it is not recommended.

The sugar in Dalgona coffee stabilizes the coffee, making it fluffy.

This fluff will not exist without the added sugar.

If you still want to cut down on sugar, don’t go below 1 tablespoon of sugar to preserve the original taste as much as possible.

What is the Price of Dalgona Coffee?

You should be able to find a ready-made Dalgona coffee for around $5 to $10.

Although the exact price of this coffee drink will vary between coffee shops and restaurants.

For people who want to make it at home, the price depends on the brand of instant coffee they buy.

Typically, a pack of instant coffee should cost you approximately $10.

Of course, you’ll have to factor in the cost of other ingredients too.

But remember that you’re getting multiple servings for this price – not just a single cup!


Dalgona coffee made its mark in 2020, and the hype has continued well into 2021.

And it will probably continue riding the wave of popularity across the world.

But a lot of people still question what the origins of Dalgona coffee are, even though it most likely originated in Macau a.k.a. the Vegas of China.

Interestingly, this drink has been around for a long time, but only got its name and fame recently.

Now that you know everything about Dalgona coffee, you can go ahead and make a cup for yourself and enjoy this sweet beverage.

Have you already tried this coffee drink?

And do you know Dalgona coffee by another name?

Drop your answers below!

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