The Skinny on Whipped Coffee
I must admit I’m not always up-to-date on the hottest trends. Like whipped coffee. But I did a little research and here are some facts I now can share with you.
Where Did it Come From?
Although it is all over social media as “whipped coffee,” the drink originated in South Korea where it is known as Dalgona coffee. Dalgona is a toffee candy, but it looks very similar to the foam created for this coffee drink, which is why it got the name.
How Do You Make It?
Mix equal parts instant coffee, sugar and water, and whip them together with a whisk or electric mixer to make foam. The foam is then spooned over water, milk or a dairy alternative which can be hot or cold.
For a single serving, about 1 tablespoon each of the instant coffee, sugar and water is spooned over one cup, or 8 fluid ounces, of liquid. Many recipes recommend using hot water to make the foam, because it helps dissolve the coffee and sugar, giving it a nice smooth texture. It needs to be instant coffee, because coffee grounds will not dissolve.
I must admit I got a little obsessed with the science behind the foam. Creating foam is far more successful when there are surfactants – which also are called are surface active agents. You could whip all day and never make a foam with water because it has none. Egg whites, on the other hand, are water and protein, and the protein can help trap air and make foam. Add sugar to your whipped egg whites and you have an extremely stable foam, or meringue. The dissolved instant coffee has protein and carbohydrate to use as surfactants, and the sugar helps to trap in even more air and make it more stable.
If your goal is the perfect Instagram pic you are definitely going to want to stick with real sugar. However, artificial sweeteners can be used, but sugar provides volume and stability while artificial sweeteners do not accomplish the same thing. But the instant coffee will still foam. I tried stevia and found that it foamed just as quickly. I couldn’t incorporate quite as much air so it was darker in color and it did start to break down a little faster.
Is It Healthy?
When I made my first whipped coffee I used sugar and 1 cup of skim milk, so my beverage came in at 138 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrate, no fat and 8.5 grams of protein.
When you compare that to the 16-ounce cinnamon Dulce latte from Starbucks, you can see a huge difference. That latte has 340 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein. I would say the whipped coffee is much healthier!
If you make your foam with artificial sweetener and put it over warm water you can get whipped coffee to as low as 9 calories. That offers 0 fat grams and only 2 grams of carbohydrate, along with a half gram of protein. That’s about the same as a cup of plain coffee.
To keep it healthy, the most important decision is what you mix the foam into. Skip the whole milk and already sweetened dairy alternatives and I think you can easily drink whipped coffee as part of a balanced diet.
Is it Good?
Taste is subjective, but I don’t think I will be whipping up another glass of this anytime soon.
Instant coffee was designed for convenience, not for its amazing flavor. It is often made using beans nearing the end of their shelf life, and because of the intense drying process I feel it often tastes burnt.
The directions on the instant coffee container calls for a teaspoon of granules to every 8 fluid ounces. For whipped coffee, we use three times the amount recommended, and that’s a strong cup of overcooked coffee.
There’s also the fuss. I’m not terribly interested in an upper arm whisk workout or having to clean the beaters from my electric mixer every morning, especially for a foam that is both extremely bitter and sweet.
For me to find it edible, I really had to mix it completely with the milk or liquid undoing all the foam-making work. Once it was all mixed together, and I sprinkled a little cinnamon over the top, it was a decent cup of cold coffee.
But, in term of efficiency and taste I think I will stick with some Folgers's from the Keurig to start my day!
Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital. Get more insight on nutrition and health.