Allison Ward used to grab coffee during her commute to work. The 34-year-old, a project manager at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, told me she needs caffeine every day, and that ever since the coronavirus pandemic put the city on lockdown, she’s been missing her Starbucks fix.
Then she learned about dalgona coffee. The recipe—made of equal parts instant coffee, sugar, and hot water, whipped until foamy—has been around for years in countries such as India, Greece, and Libya, but became a viral trend in March after South Korean YouTubers began testing the concoction. Like other quarantine micro-trends—sourdough starters, for one—the drink grew popular online for being both easy to make and pretty to photograph. (When whisked well and poured over iced milk, it looks like an artisanal latte.) “It’s been a nice taste of familiarity in hard times,” Ward told me over the phone. “It’s a fun novelty, and it’s definitely a nicer presentation than normal coffee, if you want something fancy looking.” She first tried the recipe shortly after her office closed in mid-March; since then, she’s made a cup of frothy dalgona coffee every weekend.
Food culture changes constantly. In restaurants, chefs work to keep their menus updated. When immigrants move, they remix traditional dishes with ingredients available in their new communities. And dietary restrictions inspire the development of new technologies; the rise of veganism, for instance, has led to the growing availability of plant-based foods.