What Is An Affogato (And How To Make One)

Coffee has been around for many centuries, and for most of that time was served black. At some point, someone added milk and sugar, but they were the only variations available.

In comparatively recent times, like over the past 100 years or so, many more variations have been created, partly due to the invention of the espresso machine, which gave a more versatile coffee shot to play with.

One of these variations is the Affogato. But, what is an Affogato, and how do you make one?

Let’s find out.

What is an Affogato?

An Affogato is, in its pure form, a scoop of vanilla gelato over which is poured a shot of hot espresso coffee, and eaten before the gelato melts. Outside Italy, cafes generally serve it with vanilla ice cream rather than gelato, and even caramel or chocolate ice cream. But purists stick with vanilla gelato.

There is some dispute over whether it is a drink or a dessert, and should it be served in a bowl, glass, or cup. Keep reading as we try to unravel the secrets of the Affogato.

Why is it called an Affogato?

Like most great espresso coffee creations, the Affogato was invented in Italy. The name is translated into English as “drowned” or “drowning”.

This name gives a good description of the way the gelato or ice cream is “drowned” by the coffee shot.

What is an affogato

How to make an Affogato at home

This makes a great dessert when you have guests for dinner or just for a special occasion with the family, and you can make it even without an espresso machine.

For individual servings, it is best to use a glass tumbler, so everyone can see the way the coffee blends with the ice cream. It is also a good idea to pre-chill the glasses by putting them in a freezer for up to 30 minutes before use.

Using a warmed ice cream scoop, or if you don’t have one, using a warmed dessert spoon, try to form an approximately round ball of ice cream and place it in the glass, then pour over a shot of fresh espresso. You can use coffee brewed by other methods, but it should be of good strength.

To make it even more interesting, you can add a shot of liqueur such as Amaretto or Frangelico over the coffee, which is commonly seen on menus in Italian cafes.

How to eat/drink an affogato the right way

There are two ways to taste an Affogato. Firstly, as a dessert: eat the ice cream or gelato with a spoon and then drink the coffee that has blended with some melted ice cream and possibly a liqueur.

Secondly, as a drink. Let the ice cream melt completely, which would only take a minute or so, and then sip it as you would a single espresso shot.

My suggestion is to try both ways – each of them sounds delicious.


Is it a drink or is it a dessert?

As with most things in life, it is a matter of personal taste and whether you eat it with a spoon or sip it, make it with espresso or drip coffee, or add liqueur to it.

An Affogato is a very enjoyable way to get a caffeine hit!


What does Affogato mean at Starbucks?

Unlike the classic Affogato, espresso poured over gelato, the Starbucks take on this drink is completely different. 

Using the basic concept of drowning by espresso, the Starbucks Affogato is an espresso shot poured over any cold drink, for example, an iced latte or a coffee Frappuccino.

When it first started to appear as a novelty item in Starbucks stores in 2016, it was called “Affogato style”, but nowadays it is rolled out periodically, usually as a vanilla Frappuccino with an espresso shot poured over and promoted as an Affogato.

But you can still order your favorite cold drink at Starbucks “Affogato style” and the baristas are sure to oblige.

Does an Affogato have alcohol?

The regular Affogato does not contain alcohol.

You can add a shot of liqueur when you make them at home, and probably most cafes that also serve alcohol will oblige you with an extra shot of Amaretto or your favorite liqueur – they will be happy to have an add-on to the price.

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