Espresso With Gelato: Is There A Difference?

You might think espresso with gelato is just an affogato. While this is true, there is quite a distinction when you use gelato instead of the usual ice cream

Espresso with gelato
It is better to put gelato for your affogato

I met an Italian a few years back in one of those sports bars that serve coffee in the afternoon and beer in the evening. We had a hearty conversation about alcoholic beverages, his unwavering loathe for Juventus, and, funnily enough, the difference between gelato and ice cream. The look he gave me that night when I called gelato “ice cream” will forever be ingrained in my head.

He passionately shared that it is better to put gelato for your affogato because it is thicker, creamier, and much more flavorful than ice cream. He made sense, but I want to know why.

It Has Something To Do With Fat

Usually, ice cream uses more cream when compared to a legitimate gelato, which results in more fat. A typical serving of ice cream contains around 10% to 25% fat, whereas gelato only ranges from 4% to 9%

These fats not only coat the tongue, which affects your sense of taste but coat the flavors of the ice cream itself to some extent. This consequently hinders you from fully appreciating the ideal flavor of your affogato. Gelato, on the other hand, is generally milk-based, so the flavor is silkier.

You might be interested in our round-up of the best espresso brands.

Churned Slowly But Surely

Both ice cream and gelato are churned. Gelatos are churned at a slower speed to allow the air to escape and make the end-product denser and the flavors more intense. It becomes heavier but just enough to submerge right in the middle of your espresso. 

Melts Faster

There is a reason why ice cream and gelato taste best slightly melted – the coldness also numbs your tongue, so when it becomes warmer, the flavors are released. Ice cream has more fat and air, which slows the melting process even with hot espresso. 

Espresso with gelato
Ice cream has more fat and air, which slows the melting process even with hot espresso

Gelato starts to melt the moment you take it out of the freezer. Once the espresso is added, it blends immediately. The quick melting point helps with the scooping process, too.

Is Gelato Healthier Than Ice Cream For Affogato?

You might think yes, because the fat content speaks for itself, right? Not exactly.

Aside from the fat content, both are high in sugar and calories. A scoop of ice cream, or roughly half of a cup, contains 16 grams of sugar and 210 calories, and a scoop of gelato has about 17 grams of sugar and registers 160 calories. You still have to consider different flavors when looking at the nutritional content. 

So while it is true that gelato has the upper hand, the disparity is not that great, so it is best to consume it in moderation. Still, if you are looking for something low in calories and fat for your diet, gelato is the one you should choose.

Thankfully, gelato doesn’t negate the impact of caffeine. You can utilize the gelato’s sugar content to energize you in between or after any activities. Affogatos are also perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day.

You should also consider the flavors to maximize the health benefits! An assortment of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be found in your gelato, depending on which brand and variant you pick! A recommendation is to go for the berry ones since they also go well with espresso.

Best Gelatos For Your Affogato

You can never go wrong with vanilla or chocolate since these make the traditional affogato

Go for a chocolate amaretto

If you want something with a kick, look for gelato amaretto flavors. Go for a chocolate amaretto to give your affogato a fruity twist. If you are on the playful side, go for rum, and raisin gelato since the alcohol’s woody flavor complements the espresso’s smoky and robust taste. 

If you are in Italy by any chance, may I suggest the cioccolato all’azteca? This unique gelato contains chocolate, cinnamon, and hot peppers. The first two ingredients work well with espresso but adding a tinge of hot peppers might take your affogato experience to a new level.


  • Renz Lyndon Paguio

    His love for java originated from sidewalk vendors offering cheap 3-in-1 instant coffees poured in styrofoam cups. If he’s not in a studio or in an event venue, you’ll find RL crafting his own cold brew or sharing his experiences to fellow coffeephiles.