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Dalgona coffee craze: Follow this recipe to make the pillowy drink this week

The fluffy, photo-worthy beverage is a sensation on YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and seemingly everywhere. And it's easy to make in your own kitchen.

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You can make dalgona coffee thick like dessert, or more like a latte.

Connie Guglielmo/CNET

What is this dalgona coffee you keep hearing about? An Instagram, YouTube and TikTok sensation. A pillowy beverage that's taken over CNET staffers' kitchens. And a cold, whipped coffee drink that was inspired by a South Korean honeycomb toffee by the same name. However you look at dalgona coffee, the end result is a multilayered drink that's as photogenic as it is tasty. See our gallery below for the proof.

The basic recipe includes a mere five ingredients -- instant coffee, sugar, water, milk and ice -- and is easy to prepare at home by yourself or with your kids. The beauty of this beverage is that it's open to dozens of variations. Decaf versions won't keep you up all night. Almond milk and coconut sugar work as well as the standard dairy and sweetener. Lemon zest and mint can jazz up the milk. You can even add a shot of booze and extra caffeine. 

There are just a few things we wouldn't recommend. Cocoa powder doesn't sub in well for instant coffee. If you place the dalgona foam on a hot drink, it'll melt. And we don't recommend our colleague's version topped with bologna. 

For more coffee drinks, here's how to make yourself a cup of drip coffee or the best iced coffee ever . If you're feeling especially ambitious, here's how to make your favorite Starbucks coffee drinks  at home. 

Read more: Best coffee maker to buy for 2020: Bonavita, Ninja, Oxo, Moccamaster and more

How to make dalgona coffee at home

For the basic dalgona coffee recipe, all you'll need is:

  • 1 tablespoon of instant coffee or instant espresso
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • milk (dairy or nondairy will work equally well here)

Add the instant coffee, sugar and water to a bowl and whisk vigorously (or use a hand blender if you have one to make it a much easier process) until the mixture becomes superthick -- it should hold a similar consistency to whipped cream with somewhat stiff peaks -- and turns a subtle golden-brown color. 

Read more: The best coffee accessories of 2020

Pour milk into a glass filled with ice cubes, then scoop the pillowy mixture on top of the cold milk or mix the two parts together if you're looking for more of a latte situation.

You can also dress it up with variations, like mint in the milk layer, or dalgona coffee foam over a different beverage -- like iced coffee or cold chocolate milk -- or even sprinkles on top. It's a fun, lighthearted drink, so have fun with it.

Snap a photo (or video the entire thing) and post it online so that you, too, can join the ever-growing dalgona coffee community. 

Read moreThese coffee makers keep the cold brew flowing at home

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A version of this story was previously posted on Chowhound.