Being under the coronavirus stay-at-home has made people do strange things they've never done before, like talk to family members and bake bread.
For java junkies, the new fix is dalgona coffee, a drink that, like so many snappy trends, originated in Korea and has now hit the U.S.
The drink first surfaced via TikTok videos and is the ideal quarantine time-filler because you can sort of make it at home. It uses few ingredients and is uncomplicated, yet is labor-intensive and hard to perfect. It's like a puzzle that's hard to solve.
The ingredients consist of instant coffee, sugar, and hot water in equal proportion, which — if you do it correctly — can somehow be magically whipped into a creamy foam. (Popular Mechanics has an entire post on the chemistry.)
Part of the formula is that you must beat it with a whisk 400 times. There are already many videos online showing how to do make it, but trendy Dallas foodie types such as Stacy Breen — a former pastry chef (and onetime CultureMap Dallas contributor) who has whipped many an egg white into meringue — have yet to duplicate the buoyant peaks advertised on the internet.
Breen even procured her instant coffee from an Asian market — but she made it in proportion for one. "I think you need to make a bigger batch to get a good foam," she says. "I've also heard it's easier to do with a hand mixer, but I don't have one of those."
The drink is actually named after a Korean "sponge" candy called dalgona or ppopgi, similar to honeycomb candy, and if your forearms aren't up to the 400 lashes, you're in luck: It's starting to pop up at local Korean restaurants such as Kimchi Stylish Korean Kitchen in Carrollton, among the first places in the Dallas area to sell both the drink and the candy.
"We've been offering it since December," says a manager at Kimchi. "The drink has the same flavors as the candy."
Kimchi has remained open during the onset of the coronavirus, doing takeout food from a menu that includes fire chicken with rice and a side for $11, plus beer to go if you bring a growler, with prices starting at 50 cents per ounce and 10 percent off any growler fill if you bring your own bottles.
"But we've seen people come in now for the coffee to go," he says.
TocoToco Boba Tea in Plano, famous for their pandan bubble waffles, started offering dalgona three weeks ago, along with their takeout food menu. "If you don't want to spend all that time whipping, it's more convenient," a staffer says.
La Duni, the Latin-American cafe, has been offering an especially decadent version of whipped coffee with triple leches sauce and your choice of regular or with house-made dulce de leche or house-made chocolate syrup, for nine months, says owner Taco Borga, which can be ordered online. "Thick and sweet espresso nondairy cream over you choice of milk — we prefer cold," he says.
And La Casita Bakeshop recently added a dalgona coffee option to its selection of cruffins, which changes week to week.