Trying Whipped Coffee

Yes, dear reader, all this time at home has made me weak. Social distancing has slowly eroded my ability to resist the siren call of an internet food trend. I mean really, how could anyone expect me to resist trying whipped coffee for myself?

I couldn’t escape it. Every place I visit to consume my food (and non-food) news had something about whipped coffee – the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Vice, Cnn, and that’s only the beginning of a very deep internet rabbit hole. Just search “whipped coffee” or “dalgona coffee” on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean.

The origins of whipped coffee is still a hot topic of discussion. First believed to have originated in South Korea as dalgona coffee, it has come to light that whipping instant coffee with sugar is a preparation familiar to several regions where instant coffee is more popularly consumed than brewed. The phenomenon does feel a bit like we’re excited about “discovering” something that the rest of the world has known about for a long, long time.

So I thought, why not? My partner really likes his Nescafé instant coffee, and drinks it most mornings.

I followed the recipe put out by the New York Times, but I found it really doesn’t matter that much. The “recipe” is very simple, and only varies slightly. Mostly people adjust the amount of sugar to their tastes, unless you want to explore any of the non-coffee versions out there.

In full disclosure, I did not attempt to whisk the coffee by hand. That’s just too much to ask of a person first thing in the morning. I also did not pull out my hand mixer, like I saw a number of YouTubers do. Instead, I used a small battery-powered milk frother.

And I definitely made a mess, spraying instant coffee EVERYWHERE.

It only took a few minutes to whip into a nice froth. There are limitations to these little frothers, so I don’t know that it was quite as lofty as many that I’ve seen. Using a hand mixer would probably give you stiffer peaks, but I decided to proceed with what I had.

I’ll admit, the coffee foam did look mighty tasty at this point. It’s actually still quite bitter in its undiluted state.

I put a couple of ice cubes into two glasses, and filled them 3/4 of the way with milk. I used a spoon to plop some foam on top. Sadly, my foam started to dissolve into the milk almost immediately, and my foam looked a little sadder than what I had seen pictured. Aesthetics aside, I was still quite satisfied when I served it.

I wanted to like it. I really did. They are visually striking, and I do love a good foamy coffee. But at the end of the day, it’s still instant coffee, and it just didn’t do it for me. My partner, however, thoroughly enjoyed it!

I even tried to dress it up a bit, to mask that sandy flavor of instant coffee. I tried it with more sugar and some cocoa powder, thinking maybe a mocha version was the way to go. It was still sort of meh.

I guess I just prefer a simple brewed pot or french press of fresh coffee. And with all that added sugar, it was becoming something other than coffee for me. I could see it as a post-lunch dessert or a late afternoon treat maybe, but it certainly won’t become my new go to each morning.

So, if your ability to self-select has turned to mush, here’s my final verdict: If you already enjoy or are satisfied with instant coffee (which is totally cool by me – I’m no coffee snob), then you’ll probably enjoy this whipped version. If, however, you prefer rich espresso or freshly brewed coffee, I’d say to turn your novelty coffee attentions elsewhere.

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