What is Affogato?

Affogato is a classic Italian dessert that has gained popularity worldwide in recent years.

The word “affogato” means “drowned” in Italian, and it refers to a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream that is “drowned” in a shot of hot espresso. This simple yet delicious dessert is a favorite among coffee lovers and those with a sweet tooth.

Affogato al caffe is the traditional Italian name for this dessert, which translates to “drowned in coffee.” The dessert is believed to have originated in Italy, where it is commonly served in cafes and gelato shops.

The combination of hot espresso and cold gelato creates a unique flavor and texture that is hard to resist. While vanilla gelato is the most common choice, some variations of affogato use chocolate or caramel ice cream instead.

History of Affogato

Affogato is an Italian dessert that consists of a scoop of ice cream or gelato topped with a shot of hot espresso. While the exact origins of affogato are unclear, it is widely believed to have been invented in Italy sometime after the invention of the espresso machine in 1884.

In Italian, the word “affogato” means “drowned,” and it describes how ice cream or gelato is “drowned” in hot espresso. The dessert is often served in a tiny cup or glass and is great as a treat after dinner or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day.

While the first known use of affogato is not documented, it is believed to have originated in Milan during the 1990s. Since then, it has become a popular dessert choice not only in Italy but also around the world.

Today, affogato is often served in cafes and restaurants as a luxurious dessert option. It can be made with various flavors of ice cream or gelato, and some variations even include additional toppings such as whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or caramel sauce.

Understanding Affogato

Affogato is a delectable Italian dessert that combines two beloved flavors: coffee and ice cream.

It is a simple dessert that consists of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream that is “drowned” in a shot of hot espresso. The word “affogato” means “drowned” in Italian, which perfectly describes this dessert.

The combination of hot espresso and cold ice cream creates a delightful contrast in temperature and texture, making it a perfect dessert for any season. Affogato is a popular dessert in Italy and has gained popularity worldwide due to its simplicity and deliciousness.

Affogato is not only a dessert, but it is also a beverage that contains caffeine. The hot espresso shot poured over the cold ice cream creates a unique flavor profile that is both sweet and bitter. The caffeine content in the espresso provides a boost of energy, making it a perfect pick-me-up beverage.

While vanilla gelato or ice cream is the traditional choice for affogato, other flavors can be used to create a unique twist on the classic dessert. Chocolate, hazelnut, or caramel-flavored gelato or ice cream can be used instead of vanilla to create a more decadent dessert.

Affogato Ingredients

Affogato is a classic Italian dessert that is made with only a few simple ingredients.

The dessert is traditionally made with vanilla gelato or fior di latte gelato and a shot of hot espresso. The hot espresso is poured over the cold gelato, creating a delicious contrast of temperatures and textures.

While the traditional recipe only calls for two ingredients, many variations of the dessert exist, incorporating other flavors and toppings. Some recipes use coffee instead of espresso, while others add a shot of amaretto or a sprinkle of sugar to the espresso.

Other popular toppings for affogato include whipped cream, shaved dark chocolate, honeycomb, hazelnuts, and shaved chocolate. Some recipes even call for a scoop of ice cream or milk to be added to the espresso before it is poured over the gelato.

When it comes to gelato, fior di latte is the most commonly used flavor, but vanilla gelato is also a popular option. Both flavors pair well with the strong flavor of the espresso.

Affogato Preparation

Affogato is a simple yet elegant Italian dessert that combines espresso and gelato.

Here’s how to prepare an affogato:


  • Espresso
  • Gelato
  • Optional: Liqueur for added flavor, such as amaretto or Frangelico
  • Optional garnishes: Biscotti, chocolate shavings, or whipped cream


  • Espresso machine or moka pot
  • Clear glass
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Spoon


  1. Brew a shot of espresso using an espresso machine or moka pot. If you don’t have either of these, you can use a French press to make a strong coffee instead.
  2. Use an ice cream scoop to add one or two scoops of gelato to a clear glass.
  3. Pour the hot espresso over the gelato. The heat from the espresso will start to melt the gelato, creating a delicious creamy texture.
  4. Optional: Add a shot of liqueur for added flavor.
  5. Garnish with biscotti, chocolate shavings, or whipped cream, if desired.
  6. Serve immediately with a spoon.

It’s important to use clear glass to showcase the layers of the affogato. The contrast between the hot espresso and cold gelato is what makes this dessert so special. The garnishes can add a pop of flavor and texture, but they are not necessary.

Variations of Affogato

Affogato is a versatile dessert that allows for many variations.

Here are some of the most popular ways to customize this classic Italian treat:

  • Liqueur: Affogato can be made with a variety of liqueurs, such as amaretto, Frangelico, or Kahlua. Adding a splash of your favorite liqueur can add a unique flavor to the dish.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate lovers can try adding a drizzle of chocolate syrup or shaved chocolate on top of their affogato. Some people even use chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla.
  • Port: For a sophisticated twist, try using port instead of espresso. The sweet, fortified wine pairs perfectly with ice cream.
  • Rum: Rum is another popular addition to affogato. A splash of dark rum can add a rich, complex flavor to the dish.
  • Biscotti: For a crunchy texture, top your affogato with crumbled biscotti. The traditional Italian cookie is the perfect accompaniment to coffee and ice cream.
  • Tiramisu: Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert made with layers of sponge cake, coffee, and mascarpone cheese. For a unique twist on affogato, try adding a scoop of tiramisu ice cream instead of plain vanilla.
  • Coffee ice cream: For a stronger coffee flavor, use coffee ice cream instead of vanilla. This variation is perfect for those who love iced lattes and other coffee-based drinks.
  • Alcohol-free: For those who prefer an alcohol-free version, simply omit the liqueur or rum. The dish is still delicious and satisfying without the added alcohol.
  • Bicerin: A popular variation of affogato in Turin, Italy is bicerin coffee. This drink is made with layers of espresso, hot chocolate, and whipped cream.
  • Frappuccino: Starbucks has even created its own version of affogato, called the affogato-style Frappuccino. This drink is made with a shot of espresso poured over a Frappuccino, topped with whipped cream, and a drizzle of mocha sauce.
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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