Dalgona coffee might have become a viral TikTok trend, but its origins run much deeper than that. The creamy whipped coffee drink is actually a product of Asia (it’s especially popular in India and South Korea) but only recently gained popularity in the United States after catching the eye of a few influencers and celebrities. Its successor is egg coffee, a mainstay of cafes in Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.
There are many variations of egg coffee throughout Asia. In Korea, for instance, a drink known as “morning coffee” involves stirring a raw egg yolk, seasoned with salt and sesame oil, into a cup of black coffee. According to the Korea Herald, the drink, served at a dabang, a traditional Korean coffee shop, reached peak popularity in the 1960s and ‘70s, but isn’t widely consumed anymore.
Modern versions of this drink don’t require cracking an egg in your morning Joe. It can also be a frothy, creamy concoction that uses the egg yolk to create a meringue-like topping that floats on top of the coffee. Eater points out that the egg acts like a thickener that adds foam similar to how milk does to a cup of coffee in the West.
Egg coffee might remind you of another coffee trend from several years back called bulletproof coffee, which encouraged adding butter to your coffee as a way to enrich the flavor and energize the drinker. That too originated in Asia; it’s a riff on so-called butter tea, a drink from Bhutan and Tibet that mixes milk, butter (sometimes yak butter), tea leaves, and salt.
In Vietnam, egg coffee is called cà phê trứng and it sounds like a delight. To make it, you whisk together a raw egg yolk with condensed milk until the egg is light and airy, then pour it over a cup of rich, strong, dark-brewed Vietnamese coffee.
As Vice reported back in 2015, Tri Hoa Nguyen, owner of Café Giang in Hanoi, is the mastermind behind the original Vietnamese egg coffee. This sweet and slightly bitter drink might be unusual for Western tastes, but in Asia it’s a staple, and one very much worth integrating into your morning coffee routine.