The Dalgona coffee craze makes a lot more sense than some lockdown fads. First, it involves coffee and sugar, which is obviously a good thing. Second, you can make one, photograph it and send it to friends to prove – much like a hostage holding the day’s newspaper – that you’re still around.

There are a number of variations on this Korean coffee. Essentially, it’s a whipped, upside-down, super-strong cappuccino that you can make with iced or warm milk. I tried out a number of different recipes, using various kitchen appliances, to offer the simplest and most fool-proof recipe.

(Be aware that if you spend an hour or so making and trying out Dalgona coffee mixes you will be so over-caffeinated that you’ll start to feel as though you have superpowers. That’s where I am now. Hi!)

Ingredients (this will make one coffee)

  • 2 tablespoons of instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of just-boiled water
  • 200 ml of milk (plant-based milk works equally well)

To make more, just keep the proportions the same. The coffee should be intense in taste. If you make it at a ratio of one tablespoon of coffee to two tablespoons of water, you'll wind up with something that tastes a lot more like a traditional European cappuccino, and that's really not the point of it at all.

Method

First question: do you want to make the coffee with a super-whipped top? This is definitely the more Instagram-worthy version of the beverage. However, if you want to drink it with iced milk, you’ll find that the two parts of the drink don’t come together at all and in each mouthful you’ll either be drinking cold milk or strong whipped coffee. It takes some time for the two parts to mingle.

In other words, the best-looking version of the drink isn’t necessarily the tastiest. I made the coffee photographed at the top of the article and, once it's that whipped, you can literally turn it upside down for a moment without spilling the milk. 

If you make the highly-whipped top with warm milk, it blends more easily and you really do get a velvety coffee.

I tried various methods: whisking by hand, using a hand blender and using an electric whisk. Don’t try to make the coffee by hand. You’ll still be mixing it at bedtime tonight. (If you do want to try it, it'll take you about 10-15 minutes and you should aim for a zigzag whipping motion, rather than just churning round and round.)

A hand blender is sufficient to make a creamy coffee but it won’t make the whipped peaks you’ve seen online. The coffee I made using the hand blender tasted good and mixed with the milk more easily but it didn't have the distinctiveness of the whisked version.

What you really need is an electric whisk.

Put the sugar and coffee into a mixing bowl. Add the two tablespoons of just-boiled water. At this point, it seems unlikely that this small volume of gritty mess is really going to come together but just have faith.

Start whisking. At some point, it will blend and that’s quite a cool moment. Keep going. It takes a bit longer than you think. Really, whisk beyond the point of madness. All of a sudden, the mixture will transform. If you've ever whisked egg whites, you'll have seen something similar.

Either warm your milk or add ice and pour it into two glasses. Spoon your coffee mixture over the top.

Don't forget to take a picture before you start drinking.

To make the coffee in this article, I used the Breville HeatSoft hand mixer (minus the heat technology).