It all started on TikTok. One user’s attempt to whip up a Dalgona, a frothy Korean iced coffee, escalated into a social media phenomenon seemingly overnight.
In the early days of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands subsequently took to their feeds to share their own takes on the caffeinated craze. Comprising equal parts sugar, boiling water, and instant coffee, the Dalgona is whisked some 400 times into a glossy, fluffy mixture that’s then dolloped atop a glass filled with ice and milk. As the Dalgona gained momentum, it prompted professional and amateur coffee makers alike to expand their java horizons by seeking inspiration from the international iced coffee canon.
Twists on the classic Dalgona abound, with one that calls for mixing cocoa powder into the foam once it’s thoroughly whipped before adding it to the milk–some swear by spiking either with a touch of rum. Anyone seeking variety when it comes to colour and flavour can substitute green matcha powder for the coffee–but not without incorporating egg whites into the matcha mixture to obtain the right consistency. To churn a Dalgona out more quickly (and sans elbow grease), De’Longhi’s LatteCrema Cool Technology does the trick. The Eletta Explore’s cold-milk carafe, the device lets coffee enthusiasts whip up coffee-shop-style cold foams at home with the touch of a single button.
On the global iced coffee front, India’s Phenti Hui, or beaten iced coffee, is similar, though prepped and served vice versa: milk is poured over the whipped mixture of coffee, sugar, and boiling water instead of placed on top. The froth dissolves into the drink resulting in a creamier, more uniform liquid.
Greece’s Frappé shakes up sugar, coffee, and water and is then served over ice and finished with a splash of evaporated or condensed milk. The Brazilian Mocha Cola exemplifies its name: a sugary, whipped cream-topped potion that combines coffee, chocolate milk, and cola–ideal for those looking to double up on caffeine.
Thailand’s Oliang, known more familiarly as Thai iced coffee, mixes coffee grounds and brown sugar with various grains and seeds such as cardamom, corn, soybeans, rice, and sesame seeds. It’s then usually topped with condensed or evaporated milk. The grains and spices add a smokiness that some might find too overbearing, but it’s nothing that a dash or two of simple sugar can’t soften.
No compilation of international iced coffee drinks would be complete without the Algerian Mazagran, often cited as the world’s first iced coffee. Dating back to the French conquest of Algeria in the 1840s, it’s said that French soldiers stationed at the fortress of Mazagran in Algiers crafted the cool drink while burning the midnight oil–the iced coffee helped them stay awake, and the rum imparted a delicate kick. The drink evolved as it spread around Europe, and while it’s currently less common in Algeria, the Portuguese Mazagran holds top popularity honours today, incorporating lemon and mint for a refreshing quencher on those sweltering summer days.