food trends

What Is Fluffy Coffee, and Why?

Fluffy coffee.
You mean to tell me that people are fluffing their coffee? Photo: YouTube

If you’ve found yourself endlessly scrolling through any social-media platform in the past few weeks, you’ve likely come across a precious two-tone beverage served in a transparent glass that looks like something an anime fairy would drink. The bottom is unmistakably some sort of milk, but the light-brown top layer is more perplexing. In some photos, it resembles a soft peak of Swiss meringue; in others, the top of a Wendy’s Frosty. And, over the past month, the alluring bev has become increasingly inescapable.

The drink, which bears the cutesy name “fluffy coffee,” is actually quite simple: To create it, you vigorously whisk instant-coffee powder with hot water and sugar until it becomes frothy, and then plop it atop cold milk, voilà. And it is, truly, everywhere. Every proud “foodie” worth their salt has tackled the drink on their food blogs and vlogs, painstakingly reviewing the drink’s tasting notes and uploading their own recipes. It’s all over Instagram and TikTok. So viral has it gone that even BuzzFeed Video has whipped up the beverage.

“I think, more than anything, it’s a drink that’s a really fun distraction for specifically right now,” Los Angeles Times cooking columnist Ben Mims, who meticulously documented himself making the drink on Instagram, told the Cut. “It uses an ingredient that everyone already has in their pantry, either by accident or on purpose, and manipulates it to create this frivolous fluff that makes you feel like you created magic.”

The trend originated in South Korea. As early as February, YouTubers like 뚤기ddulgi were posting incredibly soothing, ASMR-esque videos of themselves whisking the iced drink. Some of these have amassed over 4 million views each. In these videos, the drink bears the name “dalgona coffee,” which pays tribute to South Korea’s popular honeycomb candy of the same name.

So why are we all losing it over this one? First of all, it’s just very cute! It has mass appeal, it’s relatively easy to prepare, and it’s photogenic. It also doesn’t hurt that it emerged at a time when all our neighborhood coffee shops have locked their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has consequently inspired some of us to pursue our dreams of being at-home baristas.

Just one question, and I mean absolutely no offense to all you fluffy-coffee-makers: You people know you can just brew coffee like a normal person, right?

What Is Fluffy Coffee, and Why?