Dalgona coffee / whipped coffee is a hit recently, which is made from instant coffee powder, hot water and sugar.

I was wondering if there are any possibilities that we could have similar results if we do not use sugar? And if we could substitute the sugar with other stuff so to make the whipped-cream-liked foam stiff?

  • Are you thinking of artificial sweeteners or different sweeteners or are you just wondering how magical is this stuff lol? My initial thought was "no," but it struck me you could make actual whipped cream with a lot of coffee powder. You could probably whip up some coffee egg whites too. I do know that if you add vanilla extract or cocoa powder or any kind of fat, that seems to destabilize existing dalgona foam, and prevent it from whipping up as much of you add it at the beginning. Salt and brown sugar are fine though. I can try just whipping water and coffee in the morning. Why not?
    – kitukwfyer
    Apr 5, 2020 at 2:14
  • I was able to get really thick foam with just instant coffee, hot water, and an immersion blender. 1 - 2 tsp coffee, and just enough water to be deep enough for the immersion blender to reach.
    – mbeckish
    Apr 20, 2020 at 18:44
  • I tried with coconut sugar instead of regular white sugar and was able to get soft peaks with an electric beater.
    – Ess Kay
    May 27, 2020 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


This answer is hopefully a work in progress, because this is a good way for me to make iced coffee to take to work in the morning and I don't know how to answer this question beyond experiementation. I don't really understand the molecular/particle-y science stuff behind it, but there is some science happening here lol. Hopefully someone else comes along with a better answer.

Emmymade described such science briefly at the end of her video that the micro-particles that form the instant coffee crystals become suspended in the liquid between the bubbles which grants the foam so much height and stability. She also tried making it with cocoa powder and matcha, since they're extremely fine powders, but those were not successful. I'd be curious to see if you could do something similar with kool-aid or instant tea powder, but I don't have any on hand, so I'm not sure. You can make a similar foam with dried milk powder, but it's not as stiff as the dalgona coffee foam.

As for sugar, I did indeed try a couple of experiments this morning related to the sugar, and sugar (or salt maybe) is required to get the full foam effect.

The basic dalgona foam, made with equal parts (1 teaspoon in my experiment this morning) coffee powder, sugar, and water will whip up to stiff peaks in a matter of minutes even using a hand whisk. I whisk things by hand a lot anyway, so I might have more speed/endurance than some, but it's still impressive. As I said in my comment, adding a little salt does not harm the foam.

I tried whipping up equal parts of instant coffee and water, and while I did get a foamy liquid.... it remained a sloshy liquid with bubbles that popped quickly. I could hear the foam breaking. It did not build up or lighten in color like the normal stuff. Adding sugar into it pretty much immediately stabilized it, causing it to lighten in color and build up serious volume.

I tried making a small batch of 2 teaspoons instant coffee to 1 teaspoon water, and while it was more stable than the equal parts coffee/water, it still never built up the same volume or really lightened in color. I got it to a soft peak-ish stage, but it still moved slowly across the bottom of the bowl, and the bubbles were visible. It was not a smooth marshmallow-y substance. But I did not hear the foam breaking down too much as I held it next to my ear.

I also tried adding a little heavy cream and vanilla to the basic 1:1:1 recipe, and... that failed completely. There was almost nothing left after I whisked it in for a minute. It maybe foamed up as much as the equal coffee/water experiment.

I tried adding a little vanilla to a batch, and while it did not destroy the foam, it did break it down a bit and looked coarser overall.

I tried adding a little cocoa powder to a batch, and like the vanilla, it did not catastrophically destroy the foam, but it did deflate it a little, and got a coarser texture overall.

I did make some with brown sugar which worked perfectly well, it lightened and blew up to stiff peaks like I wanted, but that's as far as I've gotten.

I don't have any artificial sweeteners on hand, but I might try making some with rice syrup or honey this evening just to see what happens.

  • Let it be known that rice syrup seems to work okay, but don't add any water. I did 2:1:3 coffee, water, rice syrup, and its thick, foamy, and light in color, but still liquid. It's at a ribbon stage.
    – kitukwfyer
    Apr 6, 2020 at 2:05
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee to 1 teaspoon water looks good. I am also trying to buy cream of tartar and see if it could help stabilize the foam ...
    – Ryan
    Apr 16, 2020 at 18:56
  • The experimentation and thoroughness is exactly the sort of answer I like to see!
    – Erica
    Apr 20, 2020 at 19:55

The substance that stabilizes the mix is the sugar. Dalgona coffee is not something new, it is just more popular.

Liquid coffee mixed with sugar in the same way as Dalgona coffee, is also known as Cuban espresso, or Indian espresso. The effect is not as spectacular as Dalgona, because regular coffee doesn't have the same stickiness as instant coffee, and it is more watery that Dalgona recipe.

You could try with a mix of instant coffee and instant coffee substitute, (Pero, Inka, Postum, etc...), in order to reduce the sugar content. But you will need something to bind the water.

In theory, you could use xanthan gum, to replace the sugar, and with some instant coffee substitute it will have a bit of volume, (sugar gives it volume.)

I can also see some agar gum as well, when it cools down, the agar gum will give your coffee stability.

I personally recommend you to add a little sugar, or maybe a little condensed milk for an interesting flavor.


Tried it with honey (2 tbsp coffee, 2 tbsp water, 2 tbsp honey), required a lot of whipping time though, but turned out well!


No sugar, no honey, no substitute sweeteners works but better stiff peaks with sugar in it. I either do 2tbs coffee, 2 tbs hot water, a dash of honey or sugar OR 2tbs coffee, 2 tbs hot water, 1/2 tbs sugar.

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