Why Nutritionists Can't Stand This Viral TikTok Trend

And how to make it healthier.

July 08, 2020
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Photo by: sveta_zarzamora/Getty Images

sveta_zarzamora/Getty Images

TikTok has created more than a few food trends that make dietitians cringe; we’re looking at you syrup-drenched-butter-laden #pancakecereal. Dalgona coffee has over has more than 363 million views on the platform; it also has six times the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee and a whopping six teaspoons of sugar, clocking in at around 330 calories per oversized mug. But surprisingly, it’s not too tricky to make a recipe for the viral whipped coffee that’s much healthier. And as a bonus, our barista tips will help you whip up thicker coffee foam than you ever got using that old super-sweet method.

Dalgona coffee is described as a milky latte topped with frothy coffee foam. According to some of the most popular TikTok recipes, the caffeinated froth is made from instant coffee, sugar and hot water that are whipped together with electric beaters in a large bowl. However, we’ve found that a little food science can help you make a healthier, thicker-frothed version.

According to Carols Armas, food scientist at Nestle, the maker of Nescafe and Taster’s Choice brands, instant coffee is produced by freeze-drying regular coffee. The granules that are formed in this process contain tiny chambers of trapped air so they can quickly dissolve into a liquid. “The trick to thicker whipped coffee foam is to make the coffee granules actually dissolve slower, so the air from the chambers is maintained in the solution – and doesn’t escape. This trapped air adds to the air whipped in during the frothing process.”

After lots of tasty testing, here are the best tips on how to make super-frothy, healthy whipped coffee:

Use cold water. Armas explained that hot water dissolves the coffee granules quickly, deflating the air chambers. Use cold water to maintain more air in your foam.

Don’t use a bowl. A wide bowl has more surface area for the air to be released. Do use a big mug or, our favorite, a chilled mason jar to whip the coffee.

Try a milk frother instead. The best tool for frothing is a hand-held milk frother. But if you don’t have a frother, one electric beater works very well. Two beaters won’t fit into your mason jar; instead, insert just one beater into your electric beater. Beat for about 1.5 minutes – and you’ll have foam so thick that you can even turn the jar upside down and the foam will stay put!

Don’t use so much sugar. Armas says that sugar stabilizes the solution making it harder for the air to escape. However, the only two necessary ingredients for foam are water and instant coffee granules. While popular recipes use six teaspoons, a teaspoon or two of sugar (or granular Stevia) works fine, or even no sugar at all. With zero-sugar foam, your result will be a very thick, caramel-colored coffee crema, which melts somewhat quicker than the sweetened foam.

Use less water. Especially if your whipped coffee is zero-sugar, the proportion of coffee to water is critical. Too much water will dissolve the granules too quickly. We’ve found the perfect proportion is one teaspoon of coffee granules to two teaspoons of water. (This small amount of water is another reason to use a smaller mixing vessel.) Knowing this formula will help you cut the caffeine content of your final drink.

Plastic, please. Using a plastic spoon to scoop your foam from the mason jar to the top of your milky latte can deflate the foam less.

Don’t drink it hot. Using the above tricks will result in super-thick foam – but it will melt quicker if placed on a hot latte. Drinking your Dalgona coffee cold will yield a longer lasting foam, especially when the foam is unsweetened.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist, food writer, and mom of four children. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com and is the author of the best-selling The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Instagram.

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