Whipped coffee first took over TikTok around the beginning of quarantine restrictions in the US. And the mania hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, our data shows users logging whipped coffee is up 95,450% in 2020 versus 2019. People living in Los Angeles can even order whipped coffee for delivery via Postmates. But dietitians say it’s better as a treat rather than as a replacement for your everyday joe.
Whipped coffee is formally known as dalgona coffee. It originated in South Korea and is named for a toffee candy. It’s pretty easy to make yourself. The classic recipe is “instant coffee, sugar, and water, whipped to soft peaks and served spooned onto hot or iced milk,” explains Jen Bruning, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
On its face, Bruning says whipped coffee is “OK” nutritionally. “Coffee has some healthful properties, and the caffeine boost can wake you up,” she says. “Plus, typically you’ll get a decent amount of calcium and some protein from the milk.” (This is true of cow’s milk, but not all plant-based milk has added calcium, and only soy milk has a significant amount of protein.)
On the downside, however, “there’s typically a couple of tablespoons of sugar in each serving, which is quite a bit for just a cup of coffee, and for that reason, I wouldn’t recommend having whipped coffee every day,” she adds.
In fact, most recipes call for 2 tablespoons of sugar, which adds up to about 100 calories. That’s also the limit of daily added sugar for women and 2/3 of the limit for men, as outlined by the American Heart Association. For that reason, Bruning recommends using unsweetened milk in whipped coffee to avoid any additional sugar.
Unfortunately, making a “healthier” version of whipped coffee isn’t easy. “I would like a version with less sugar,” Bruning says. She played around with the whipped recipe (sweetener, instant coffee, and water) and found reducing the amount of sugar results in a product that doesn’t hold its shape as well. She’s also heard alternative sweeteners produce deflated peaks.
Since it’s hard to reduce the sugar and still produce a light, fluffy texture that holds, “enjoy the experience of whipped coffee by making it the traditional way and only having it as a treat food instead of a daily beverage,” Bruning says. She also recommends having your dalgona coffee with a meal that contains a good source of protein and some fiber. “This will help keep you full and not crashing an hour later,” she explains.
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