Dalgona it!

Dalgona coffee: fluffy, caffeinated, photogenic, and… exhausting? With claims it can take an obscene amount of whisking to make, we wondered what factors influenced the amount of time needed to make this novel beverage.

Early on during our stay at home orders, “Dalgona Coffee” became quite the sensation.

A number of folks (including Alton Brown!) claimed it took a long time to make dalgona coffee (“5-10 minutes at least”), but that did not match our experience. The first time dalgona was constructed in the primary testing facility, it came together quite quickly (it seemed to take only a minute). So, what might cause drastically different make times?

Key Alton Brown quotes:

  • “I may have chosen the wrong bowl”
  • “there is probably an easier way to do this, but I’ve never done this before!”
  • this face:Alton Brown making a grimacing face while wrangling his mixer

In addition to his own observation about his bowl choice, we also noted he had used silicone tipped mixer beaters and used an instant espresso. In an effort to see what is most important in whipping up a quick batch of dalgona, we ran several trials and timed them for you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tb instant coffee (we used Folgers)
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 1 Tb hot water (we used the 175°F setting on our electric kettle)
  • Timing device
  • Optional (if you want to enjoy the beverage when done with the experiment): glass with ice and milk to serve. A straw is also recommended if you would like to avoid having a sticky coffee-stache.

Supplies:

  • Handheld Mixer (we used a Kitchen Aid with wire “turbo” beaters and a Breville with silicone tipped “scraper” beaters)
    • note: ideally we would have used a single mixer and only varied the beater style to eliminate any variation caused by the different motors/mixing speeds
  • Bowls
    • small: 5.5″ wide, 4″ deep, 5 cup total volume
    • large: 8.25″ wide, 4″ deep, 12 cup total volume
      • these are both from an older stand mixer with a rotating base

Method:

  • add instant coffee, sugar, and hot water to the bowl
  • start the timing device
  • turn on mixer and beat at high speed until soft peaks form
  • record the time it took (e.g. record video and subtract time needed for checking consistency)

finished dalgona on beaters showing soft peaks

Data:

Trial 1: wire beaters, small bowl = 1:03 minutes

Trial 2: silicone tipped, small bowl = 1:30 minutes

Trial 3: wire beaters, large bowl = 5:41 minutes

Trial 4: silicone tipped, large bowl = 6:07 minutes

composite showing equipment for trials 1 through 4

Bonus Trials!

Just to see how other options might impact the time to beverage we also tried the following:

Trial 5: handheld balloon whisk, small bowl = 2:44 minutes

Trial 6: wire beaters, small bowl, instant espresso (Medaglia D’oro) = 45 seconds

Trial 7: stick blender, small bowl = funny…animated gif showing weakly foamed dalgona liquid pulsing out the gaps of a stick blender …but not effective. This trail was considered a failure and we gave up after two minutes with minimal progress.

composite image showing equipment used in bonus trials 5 through 7

Failed Side Experiment…

While the end result may look like meringue, we would not recommend baking it. This was however a great test of our new silicone baking mat and at least cleanup was a breeze – these sad little pucks peeled off with ease.

sad, flat, dehydrated dalgona puddles

This is what happens when you bake dalgona like it were meringue. Don’t do this.

Observations:

During Trial 5, arm fatigue seemed significantly increased compared to the prior trials. While our experimental design was complicated by the use of two different handheld mixers, the arm fatigue plus knowing we were using different equipment lead to massing said equipment (without beaters):

  • Kitchen Aid mixer: 891.7 g
  • Breville mixer: 1162.5 g
    • That extra 270.8 grams of mixer was definitely noticeable during a 6 minute trial run!

Apparently a “mixer” is also a “robot culinaire” according to the label on ours. “It’s the little differences” and that one just made our afternoon brighter.

Conclusions:

Bowl size matters – a lot!

If it is taking you more than 2 minutes with a handheld electric mixer, try using a smaller bowl. Even manually doing this with a decent whisk took less than 3 minutes (and would be even faster if you had better conditioned whisking muscles).

Interestingly, the fastest time was with the instant espresso, so if seconds matter, try upgrading your instant coffee product too.

2 thoughts on “Dalgona it!

  1. Pingback: 2ᵏ Analysis of Dalgona Coffee Preparation Time | Doing Science To Stuff

  2. Pingback: Followup: Dalgona 2ᵏ Showdown, Espresso vs. Coffee | Doing Science To Stuff

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