To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Seoul metropolitan government quickly enacted a “social distancing” campaign to encourage citizens to stay home in order to protect themselves and others.
Along with its agreeable catchphrase, “Hold up! Let’s take a break from social life,” one of the tips from the campaign suggests: “Keep in touch with people by using social media measures instead of meeting them personally.”
One of the ways Koreans are staying connected is by trying their hand at making dalgona iced coffee and posting about it online. Made with equal parts instant coffee, sugar and water that’s whipped to sit atop a glass of milk like a big, foamy hat, dalgona iced coffee is the latest trendy drink that might rival latte art for being photogenic Instagram-bait.
Currently, there are nearly 50,000 posts hashtagged #달고나커피 (#dalgonacoffee) on Instagram, and the most popular YouTube videos of the recipe have surpassed millions of views.
Also known as whipped coffee in places like India, Pakistan and Macao, the coffee was given its nickname in South Korea because of how much it tastes like the retro toffee-like candy dalgona. Convenience stores and arcades used to keep dalgona-making kits around for kids to make it on their own after school. Made with sugar and baking soda, dalgona is still sold on the street in tourist areas, where the lollipop-like sweets come with shapes imprinted on them, and if you succeed in eating around the shape without breaking it, you can get another one free.