Have you heard of dalgona coffee (AKA fluffy coffee)? This coffee drink has taken the internet by storm, partially because it is so photogenic. A layer of sweetened and whipped instant coffee floats like a cloud on top of your milk of choice. My version uses Swerve and Inka, making it caffeine-free with no added sugar. It’s lower in calories without sacrificing flavor!
The internet has been abuzz with photos of and recipes for dalgona coffee. I must admit, I was intrigued by this pretty drink after seeing pictures in my social media feeds.
Dalgona coffee was named for a type of Korean candy called dalgona, which is made with melted sugar and baking soda. The drink does not actually contain dalgona, but supposedly it tastes like it does. Descriptions of dalgona remind me a lot of Buffalo sponge candy (minus the chocolate coating).
No surprises here, but fluffy dalgona coffee drinks typically include a lot of added sugar. It’s not the sort of thing that would be a mainstay in my diet. I’ve found that sticking to zero-calorie drinks (aside from milk) has been helpful both when losing weight and in my weight maintenance.
So, is there a way to make dalgona coffee without the added sugar? You bet there is, and I’m going to show you how! My version is also caffeine-free.
What you end up with is a lower calorie, lower carb version of the classic fluffy coffee that’s just as tasty as the original. If you love sweetened coffee drinks, you are going to love this treat.
Here’s what you need to make no added sugar, caffeine-free dalgona coffee.
This recipe is blissfully simple, requiring only four ingredients:
- Unsweetened milk of choice (I used 2% dairy)
- Inka (Order it here)
- Granular Swerve (Order it here)
Inka is our stand-in for instant coffee in classic dalgona coffee recipes. It is a zero-calorie instant grain beverage from Poland.
The ingredients in Inka are roasted barley, rye, chicory, and beetroots. It is surprising how much it tastes like coffee. It is great if you are looking for a caffeine-free and natural alternative to coffee that does not contain additives.
I’ve been curious about Swerve, a sugar substitute that is advertised as measuring 1:1 like table sugar. I found sugar substitutes (including non-nutritive sweeteners) to be helpful during my weight loss. Those aiming to lower their carbohydrate intake for diabetes management may also find them useful.
The ingredients in Swerve are erythritol, oligosaccharides, and natural flavors. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is extremely low in calories.
To compare, table sugar has four calories per gram, xylitol (a sugar alcohol) has 2.4 calories per gram, and erythritol has only 0.24 calories per gram. Swerve’s nutrition label claims to have zero calories per teaspoon, as it is rounded down.
If you use gobs of Swerve in your food, the calories could begin to add up. Most foods listed as “zero calories” (including Inka) are similar.
How does Swerve work as a sweetener in recipes?
We liked Swerve as a sweetener. It did measure like sugar in this recipe and had no aftertaste, unlike some non-nutritive sweeteners I’ve tried.
This fluffy coffee was a bit less fluffy than some of the photos of dalgona coffee I have seen. I can’t say for sure whether this is ultimately the fault of the Swerve, the Inka, or both.
That said, you’re still getting a thick layer of coffee fluff that floats like a cloud on top of the milk. It tastes great, and you’re mostly likely going to be stirring before drinking it anyway.
Depending on the milk you use, the use of Swerve could make this a keto-friendly dalgona option. You could make this dairy-free by using unsweetened and calcium-fortified soymilk. (Or any milk you choose, really, since this is dessert, not part of a meal.)
I’ve moved away from my use of sugar substitutes (and other highly refined foods) over the years. Using fewer non-nutritive sweeteners has helped me to gain a greater appreciation for the natural sweetness in foods.
In addition, sugar substitutes like Swerve are highly refined (though they are considered a natural sweetener). That said, I understand that these products can be a helpful steppingstone during a weight loss journey. I know I found them helpful, though others may do better refraining from using them.
When I want a nice dessert (like on a holiday), I typically use regular sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar. However, I enjoy trying these different options from time to time to see what is out there.
This dalgona coffee recipe is most likely the sweetest recipe offering on this site.
I think if I made this drink a regular part of my diet, I might crave sweet foods more. I’m guessing it would also impact my appreciation for certain tart foods, like unsweetened yogurt.
I guess what I am saying is that I know I shouldn’t make this one an everyday thing. Fruit is still my top pick for adding sweetness to recipes.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I tried this one out, both to give dalgona coffee-making a whirl and to try Swerve. I still have some Swerve left, so expect another recipe (or two) using this ingredient over the next few weeks. How (or if) this product fits into your diet is ultimately up to you.
To wrap things up, I’m impressed with how much better the sugar substitutes have become. Let me tell you; I have definitely had some baking disasters in the past with zero-calorie sweeteners that did not measure like sugar! If you are in the market for a sugar replacement, Swerve appears to be a good option.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let’s get cooking!
Dalgona Coffee (No Added Sugar, Caffeine-Free)
- Whip the Inka, Swerve, and boiling water together with an electric hand mixer for 3-5 minutes. Make sure the Inka and Swerve are completely dissolved.
- Stick the mix in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to chill.
- Remove the mixture from the freezer and whip with the electric hand mixer until light in color and thick (about 10 minutes). It should be "fluffy" enough to float in a layer on top of the milk.
- Gather two glasses and fill each partway with one cup of milk. Top each with an equal amount of the coffee fluff using a spoon. Stir before drinking. Yum!
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). The calories in this dessert are coming (pretty much) entirely from the milk. I chose 2% milk for the taste plus the assortment of essential nutrients that it provides. It’s easy to make this one keto-friendly or dairy-free depending on the “milk” you use. Using a milk alternative will change the calories and other nutrition information per serving.
If you use non-nutritive sweeteners and other sugar substitutes, which ones are your favorites? Have you tried Swerve? Let me know, and please leave a rating below if you try my recipe for dalgona coffee! Thank you so much 😀