When coffee met milkshake.
Close your eyes and imagine the best bread you ever tasted. We bet it began by hand, baked just right, and finished with a healthy helping of the freshest butter (or olive oil, if you will). When a recipe is simple, it really comes down to the ingredients. And when talking coffee, few recipes are more simple (or delicious!) than the classic Italian affogato recipe.
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Definition: An Italian dessert of vanilla ice cream over which espresso has been poured
History and Etymology: Borrowed from Italian, literally “drowned” (in compounds such as gelato affogato and affogato di gelato, referring to ice cream covered in a liquid), past participle of affogare “to drown.”
First Known Usage: 1992
What is Affogato?
Popularized in the ’90s, this timeless recipe — named for the Italian word for “drowned” — comes down to a double shot of espresso over gelato or ice cream. Not only is coffee and cream a proven winner of a combination, but the temperature and texture difference between the hot espresso and the cold ice cream makes this an especially fun to eat dessert. It’s a simple combo that begets a super-unique result.
Traditionally, the affogato is made with vanilla gelato, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla bean (if you’re feeling fancy), but we’ve also been known to experiment with coffee ice cream, dulce de leche, chocolate chip cookie dough, or frankly, whatever our heart desires. Case in point, some coffees taste like strawberries, so why not pair a coffee with strawberry ice cream?
The only hard requirement for any affogato recipe: a really good shot of espresso! If you don’t have an espresso machine readily available, we recommend making a strong coffee with an AeroPress by either decreasing the amount of water you’re using or increasing the amount of coffee.
- Prepare your vanilla ice cream in your serving dish or dessert glass
If it’s going to be more than a minute before your coffee is ready, leave it in the freezer to stay cool
For a harmonious flavor balance between the coffee and the ice cream, you probably don’t want much more than a small scoop of ice cream
- Brew your espresso or coffee
We’re not looking for the espresso to drown out the ice cream, but you do want it to make a dent
If you usually brew super-short shots (aka ristrettos) and have the freedom to change up your espresso recipe, try pulling a shot that’s a little longer, using more water
- Pour it hot over your ice cream or gelato scoops in your chilled glass
If your affogato gets a little soupy as it melts (and it will), that’s a good thing. You want textural contrast between the firm ice cream in the middle and the coffee/ice cream hybrid liquid around it
- Top it off with whipped cream, if the mood strikes
Or, heck, have some fun and introduce any ice cream topping you want.
An affogato is more than fine with just coffee and ice cream, but there’s no one (no one!) stopping you from throwing a cherry or some sprinkles on top
Most affogatos that we’ve had have been consumed with tiny demitasse spoons, mostly because those are usually already on or near espresso machines, but any kind of spoon will do
As far as espresso, it really comes down to your personal taste and preferences. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to our assortment, but these five bags taste especially delicious in an Italian affogato recipe!
Affogato Recipe Starters
This seasonally rotating espresso is a consistent crowd-pleaser — especially when paired with cream (frozen or otherwise).
Sightglass Crown Point ($14.75)
A hint of raisin brings a dense fruit sweetness to this espresso blend with enough chocolate flavor to taste similar to eating a chocolate-covered espresso bean for an Italian dessert.
Manufactory 01 Espresso ($21.80)
This rich espresso brew riffs on it roasty and toasty chocolaty-smooth base with vibrant notes of citrus acidity.
Here comes your next espresso favorite — this roaster’s flagship blend is smooth, rich, and structured.
Caffe Vita Caffe Del Sol ($18.85)
This coffee is balanced, yet fun. Think: sweet dessert-like flavors with just enough depth. Add cream, or vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, because, why not?
PT’s Flying Monkey Espresso ($18.85)