Hot Off The Internet: Dalgona Or Phenti Hui Coffee?

Whip up this viral coffee at home and let us know what you think.

Published On Feb 03, 2021 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


Here’s a frothy coffee trend to shake you out off that self-quarantine-induced slumber and a much-needed caffeine fix to get through the day. All with three simple ingredients from your pantry, and some muscle power. While the world discovered Dalgona coffee during the COVID-19 pandemic – the beaten latte of sorts that took the internet by storm – for Indians, Dalgona is regular beaten coffee that we make when friends are over. The origin of this coffee is shrouded by ambiguity, in that, some claim that Dalgona coffee rose to fame after a South Korean actor, Jung Il-woo, made it popular on his TV show, Pyunstorang, having discovered it in Macau; while others, attribute Dalgona’s popularity to a South Korean YouTube channel.

However, Dalgona Coffee’s Wikipedia page says that its genesis lies in India’s phenti hui coffee, or basically our jugaad-version of Cappuccino from yore, where we vigorously whip sugar and instant coffee powder to form a foamy, creamy mix and top it up with hot milk. Dalgona turns phenti hui coffee on its head, quite literally, with the coffee foam on top, and the milk under. The other difference is that Dalgona coffee, unlike phenti hui coffee, makes use of chilled milk. A perfect recipe for Indian summers! 

Dalgona coffee went viral once it reached TikTok, where #dalgonacoffee has up to 9M views and subsequently, on Instagram, where the same hashtag has garnered close to 88K hits. Fueled by the combined forces of coronavirus-inflicted social distancing, home quarantine and mass boredom, which is kept everyone hooked to their screens, Dalgona coffee topped the charts with its indulgent popularity.


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Rizwan Amlani, CEO of DOPE Coffee, reiterates this, “From what I’ve understood about this coffee, it’s similar to our phenti hui coffee, which we’ve been drinking in the Indian subcontinent for a long time. However, it owes its huge burst of fame to the inimitable K Pop’s love for all things beautiful.” Amlani adds that the coffee derives its name from an eponymous Korean sponge-cake-like candy. “Since both, instant coffee and milk, are whipped up into a fluffy froth, it’s a pretty fitting name. Now, with the work-from-home routine keeping so many people indoors, everyone’s open to experimenting and posting their version online. The perfect recipe for a trend,” he shares.

Adding to this, blogger and food expert , Nikhil Merchant, says, “I am actually quite thrilled with this trend. It caught steam in India when social media users realised that it’s our very own phenti hui coffee, which we all grew up making and drinking as teens. This has a skewed outcome on those who already know about the technique vis-à-vis the younger generation, who are first discovering it on TikTok and then realising that it is our own desi version!” 

Wait, is this another case of Haldi Doodh travelling to the West and returning with a dash of maple syrup to become 'Turmeric Latte?' Hmm, sounds like that. But there’s no point dismissing Dalgona coffee, for as Merchant rightly puts it, “What is there not to like about it? Dalgona coffee looks pretty and social media is all about visual appeal. Plus, it tastes so darn good that its natural for people to go into a tizzy.” 

Try out these two recipes for a chilled cuppa of Dalgona.


1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp hot water
200 ml unsweetened vanilla almond milk  
2 to 3 cubes of ice  


  1. In a large bowl, mix the instant coffee with sugar and hot water. Traditionally, one would take a spoon or a fork, and go to town whisking this like you would beat an egg. The chemical reactions to the sugar-hot water and coffee along with the infusion of air would start thickening the concoction. A good 10 minutes of whipping is required. Or, you can use an electric whisk, which takes 2 minutes.
  2. Fill a cup with the ice cubes and pour the almond milk on it.
  3. Top it up with the whipped coffee and orange zest, and you have yourself a delicious chilled beverage.

Tip: For a sugar-free version, replace the white sugar with monk sugar. You can also replace the milk with your choice of dairy.  


150 ml of cold brew concentrate
75 ml of almond milk 
2 tbsp jaggery powder
8 cubes of ice 


  1. To make cold brew concentrate, all you need to do is steep some fresh roasted coarse ground coffee in water for 12-18 hours. Use a 1:10 ratio to keep it simple and strong. 100 grams of coffee: 1000 ml of water. It’s that easy!
  2. Let the mixing begin! Drop the jaggery powder into the cold brew concentrate and mix until dissolved completely.
  3. Volume Up. Using the hand foamer, whip up the almond milk for about 1-2 minutes until it doubles in volume. Keep the foamer as low in the mixer as you can; bringing it to the top will cause lots of bubbles!
  4. Drop 6-8 ice cubes into a glass (if you have a highball, that works best). Pour in the coffee-jaggery mix and slowly layer in the milk foam.
  5. Sip It! And, we’re done. BRB enjoying our coffee.

 Tip: Prep the cold brew concentrate overnight in a large batch and you’ll be sorted all week. 

Photo: Shutterstock