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What is an Affogato?

Affogato is a dessert made by pouring a shot of espresso over ice cream or gelato. It originated in Italy, home of the espresso, but has since become a popular addition to cafe menus worldwide.

It’s one of the simplest coffee desserts you can make at home, with just two ingredients. Here’s everything you need to know about the humble but delicious affogato.

Where does affogato come from?

Affogato comes from Italy, but the exact origins are unknown. The inclusion of espresso means that it was created sometime after the invention of the espresso machine. Still, people haven’t heard of it until the 1990s (1). 

An affogato (pronounced ah-faw-gah-toh) is simply a scoop of gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it. 

The name affogato means “drowned” in English, and the idea is that the gelato is drowning in espresso.

The most traditional recipe uses fior di latte ice cream, milk-flavored ice cream made without eggs, but vanilla gelato or ice cream is now more common.

For more interesting drink ideas, check out the Home Grounds guide to coffee beverages from around the world.

How do you prepare an affogato?

Preparing an affogato is incredibly quick and easy and only requires two ingredients.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • One scoop vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • Shot of espresso

AT A GLANCE:

TIME:

5 minutes

YIELD:

1 dessert

This is the most basic recipe, but there are countless variations. You could add flavor to the coffee or change the flavor of the ice cream. You can also add liqueurs such as rum to the coffee, or add toppings such as whipped cream, berries, or crumbled biscotti. 

Do you drink or eat affogato?

You should eat an affogato rather than drink it, but you’ll find that you have to do a bit of both. If you’re wondering exactly how to eat affogato, start with a spoon, scooping up the ice cream with a little bit of espresso so that you can enjoy the combination of ingredients.

I love affogato… the colors, the smell, the mouthfeel, the contrast of hot and cold.

The idea is to finish the affogato before the ice cream melts, but if you end up with a mix of espresso and melted ice cream at the end, you can sip this like a drink. Affogato espresso is usually considered a coffee dessert, but in some cafes it will show up on the list of coffee drinks.

affogato with a twist

Does affogato have caffeine?

Yes, affogato has caffeine, but the exact amount will depend on your recipe and coffee type. Affogato made with a single shot of espresso contains 70-80mg of caffeine, but if you use a double shot, the caffeine content will be 140-160mg. For a low-caffeine option, you could make affogato with decaf espresso. A decaf affogato contains 3-16mg of caffeine.

Does affogato have milk?

Yes, affogato contains milk as part of the vanilla ice cream. If you’re trying to avoid milk, you can make an affogato with non-dairy ice cream made from ingredients such as coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Alternatively, check out the Home Grounds list of iced coffee recipes for options that don’t contain milk, cream, or ice cream.

FAQs

The taste of affogato is more than just the sum of its parts. Affogato has a strong taste and aroma of the coffee, and a sweet and creamy flavor from the ice cream. The most enjoyable thing about the affogato is the contrast between the bitter and sweet flavors, the hot and cold temperatures, and the liquid and solid textures.

Based on a standard recipe, the maximum amount of affogato you should consume in a day is 3.5 cups. The daily recommended caffeine intake is 400mg, which would be approximately 5.5 cups of affogato. However, the recommended daily sugar intake is 50g, sugar content of approximately 3.5 cups of affogato (2).

The difference between affogato and espresso is that an affogato contains ice cream, which changes the taste, texture, and nutritional value of the drink. Affogato is served on its own, whereas espresso can be drunk alone or used as a base for other drinks or coffee desserts.

  1. Schiessl, C. (2021, May 7). What the Heck Is an Affogato. VinePair. https://vinepair.com/articles/what-the-heck-is-an-affogato/
  2. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2022, February 25). Added Sugars on the New Nutrition Facts Label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/added-sugars-new-nutrition-facts-label/
Kashmir Brummel
Growing up in a coffee-free household, the discovery of the Moka pot as a teen
was something of a revelation. I’ve now upgraded to the AeroPress for my daily
brew, with a Hario V60 on hand for lazy weekend mornings.

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